Employers may bypass the PERM application process if their foreign national employee can qualify in one of the first preference, employment-based immigrant visa categories. These categories include: (i) aliens of extraordinary ability, (ii) outstanding professors and researchers; and (iii) certain multinational managers and executives.


The immigrant category for aliens of extraordinary ability is similar to the “O” nonimmigrant visa category. The foreign national must have sustained national or international acclaim in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. Additionally, the foreign national must seek to enter the United States to continue working in the area of extraordinary ability, and his or her entry must “substantially benefit prospectively” the United States. No offer of employment is required.

The foreign national’s extraordinary ability and achievements must be extensively documented, and must indicate that he or she is one of a small percentage who have risen to the top of a field of endeavor.

Foreign national must meet 3 of 10 criteria below, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal): (i) evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence; (ii) membership in an association which requires outstanding achievement as judged by recognized national or international experts; (iii) evidence of published material in professional publications written by others about the person’s work; (iv) participation as a judge of the work of others; (v) original scientific research, scholastic, artistic, or business-related contributions of major significance; (vi) authorship of scholarly books or articles in the field; (vii) artistic exhibitions or showcases; (viii) performance in a leading or cultural role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation; (ix) high salary or remuneration in relation to others in the field; or (x) commercial success in the performing arts.


The requirements for qualification as an outstanding professor or researcher are slightly less rigorous than those for qualification as an alien of extraordinary ability.

Outstanding professors are those who are internationally recognized in a specific academic area, and who have at least 3 years of teaching or research experience in that area. Additionally, the person must seek entry to the United States to accept a tenure or tenure track position, or to conduct research at a university or private employer for an indefinite period. Private employers must employ at least three individuals in full-time research activities, and must have achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field. Additionally, the person must provide evidence of at least 2 of the following: (i) receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement; (ii) membership in an association which requires outstanding achievement; (iii) published material in professional publications written by others about the person’s work; (iv) evidence of original scientific research; (v) evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field; or (vi)  authorship of scholarly books or articles in the field.


The immigrant category for certain multinational managers and executives is comparable to the “L-1A” nonimmigrant visa classification. The person must have been employed outside of the United States (i) for at least one continuous year during the three-year period prior to being transferred to the United States, (ii) in an executive or managerial capacity, (iii) by a firm, corporation or other legal entity, or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof. Additionally, the person must be seeking entry to the United States in order to work for the same employer (or its affiliate or subsidiary) in a managerial or executive capacity. The prospective U.S. employer must also have been doing business for at least one year.