USCIS Approves Unconventional E11 Visa

E11 visas are given to individuals like John Lennon who show extraordinary abilities in certain fields.The United States has a little known immigration rule that offers green cards to individuals who prove to be the “best of the best in their field,” according to the New York Daily News.

Known as the Green Card Through Self Petition, the E11 work visa applies to individuals who show extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, education or athletics. Applicants are immigrant workers who self-petition for consideration and do not need a job offer or employer to sponsor them through the process, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If an individual lives outside of the United States, USCIS works with the State Department to petition for the alien worker with an approved Form I-140 after the visa is accepted. For those already living in the United States, a Form I-485 allows the individual to adjust his or her status to become a permanent resident.

E11 visas are usually given to famous artists, top athletes, Nobel Prize winners and public figures like the winner of the Miss Universe pageant, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. However, in a bold move, USCIS recently granted an E11 visa to Canadian burlesque dancer Bettina May.

“We certainly had to go the distance to convince USCIS that she qualified under their criteria,” said Jan Brown, May’s lawyer. “The bottom line is she really is one of the best pin-up models and burlesque artists.”

Brown created a six-inch-thick application on May’s behalf, and believes that she is now the first woman to be accepted for her extraordinary burlesque ability. With awards that include the Golden Pasties from the New York Burlesque Festival, press clippings and appearances in ad campaigns for PETA, Brown was able to secure a green card for his client who calls herself a Canadian burlesque ambassador, the New York Daily News reported.

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