On July 16, 2008, the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania delivered a decisive victory to an Extraordinary Ability Alien over the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to admonishing DHS for reading its own regulations too narrowly and deciding cases against the law, this case is critically important for academics previously excluded from the Extraordinary Ability visa category or forced to file as Outstanding Professors or Researchers.
Gülen v. Chertoff involved a well-known scholar in the fields of theology, political science, and Islamic studies – fields not immediately considered to fall squarely within the parameters of “arts, science, business or athletics.” The Court’s important ruling expanded the “field of endeavor” requirement to include any area where a college or university degree may be sought. On the issue of “scholarly publications,” the Court held that any publication including “popular media” can be considered “scholarly” provided that it is widely cited or adopted by the industry or professional community. Finally, the Court determined that because the regulations do not require Extraordinary Ability Aliens to show proof of an offer for employment, the government cannot require a detailed plan of employment. Instead, an alien may submit a simple and clear statement of his or her intentions to carry on his or her work in the United States.
-Katie (Orton) Jacob