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Championing Extraordinary Ability: A Guide to Getting Published for Immigrants

Championing Extraordinary Ability: A Guide to Getting Published for Immigrants

Magazine, Making Money,Written by Gerri Knilans, President, Trade Press Services Exclusively for Immigrant Magazine


Championing Extraordinary Ability: A Guide to Getting Published for ImmigrantsWith more than 20 temporary (or nonimmigrant) worker and five permanent worker visa classifications, obtaining an employment-related visa is difficult and confusing. Each visa has a specific use and necessary criteria that must be met. One of the most popular options available is the “extraordinary ability” visa. Individuals who seek this classification are required to demonstrate extraordinary ability through sustained national or international acclaim.

Types of extraordinary ability visas

One of the eligibility criteria for either temporary or permanent workers, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is to “demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim.” Temporary workers applying for the 0-1 nonimmigrant visas for individuals with extraordinary ability must be sponsored by their employer and are allowed to stay in the United States only for the reason their nonimmigrant visa was issued. With this visa, workers can stay for up to three years and may apply for unlimited extensions. Permanent workers are legally approved to live and work permanently in America. The First Preference EB-1 visa is for persons of extraordinary ability in selected fields who have a specific combination of skills, education and/or work experience. According to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs, 3,854 EB-1 and 16,094 O-1 visas were issued in 2018.

Being published helps with the visa process

To prove extraordinary ability in a field, foreign professionals must satisfy at least three criteria from a list established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These criteria

are similar for both the O-1 and EB-1 visas.

One way to meet the criteria is by authoring and publishing scholarly articles in professional or major trade magazines or other major media. This process, however, can be very challenging and time consuming for immigrants who aren’t accustomed to working with editors and the media. With more than 7,000 magazines published in the United States, it can be an overwhelming task. Finding the ones best suited to an immigrant’s expertise is complicated and requires specialized research and resources. Additionally, understanding how editors work, what type of content they seek and how to approach them are tasks best left to those who work in the industry on a daily basis. One foreign professional with a medical degree, who used a partner for getting several articles published in medicals publications stated, “I have all the knowledge, but I needed somebody to help me in communicating—somebody who is proficient in English grammar. I needed help with contacting editors on my behalf and putting my raw thoughts into proper English.”

Five steps to getting published

            For immigrants who want to pursue the process of getting published on their own, here are five steps to follow:

  1. Research publications. The starting point is to identify the most appropriate trade and professional publications that serve the foreign professional’s field of expertise. In addition to internet searches, some libraries, universities and other organizations have access to publication databases, allowing for more targeted searches. Many industry-specific trade associations also produce high-quality publications for their members.
  2. Identify topics. With a list of publications identified, the next step is to develop a list of proposed topics to submit to the editors. Before doing so, make sure to look at the editorial calendar of the publications along with past issues to understand the type of articles the publications use and the style of writing specific to each outlet. In this way, potential authors can see if their expertise can translate into article that is a good fit for the targeted publication. When developing topics, keep in mind that editors look for content that helps readers solve problems, become more efficient or effective, gain knowledge or better understand industry trends.
  3. Secure a placement confirmation. In this step, the author submits proposed topics to editors. If an editor selects a topic, the editor will give the contributing author an editorial due date, target publication date, word count (length of the article) and any relevant author’s guidelines. This represents the editor’s commitment to review the article when submitted and publish it if the editor finds the content well-written and valuable.
  4. Write the article. This step can be difficult for non-native English speakers. General suggestions include writing in active tense, using the third person and writing short and straightforward sentences. Review past issues of the publication to ensure that the writing style matches what is used by the publication. Each paragraph should contain information that is relevant to the publication’s audience, addresses the topic thoroughly and answers the question “So what?”
  5. Submit the article. The final step is to submit the article, including any additional supporting materials such as graphics, by the due date requested by the editor. Submitting an article does not mean the process is complete. Typically, the article is reviewed by the publication’s editorial staff. During this review, the editor may ask the author to make changes or provide additional content, or the editor may make changes to the article directly. Stay in contact with the editor until the article publishes, since publication delays do occur occasionally.

Many publications send authors complimentary issues of the publication containing their articles, or they have a service through which professional copies of the articles can be purchased. These copies are used to provide proof of authorship during an immigration hearing.

Additional benefits

In addition to facilitating the extraordinary ability process, there are other benefits to getting published. “Getting published wasn’t just helpful for immigration. It also added a lot of value in my career and provided a lot of marketing impact to me as a brand,” said Niresh Behari, an immigrant and a process safety engineer who authored several articles recently published in prominent trade journals. Because of their highly specific nature, industry publications are considered especially credible by their targeted readerships. In addition to enhanced credibility and visibility in their marketplace, published authors establish themselves and industry and thought leaders. Further, when a company name is associated an author’s byline, it can increase name recognition, generate awareness with target markets and create positive brand reactions that can lead to future purchases.

Working with a partner

Whether an immigrant is applying for an O-1 or EB-1 visa, satisfaction of at least three criteria proving extraordinary ability in the immigrant’s field of work must be established. Publishing in professional or trade publications meets one of these criteria and positions immigrants as experts in their fields. Yet, even with the five-step process outlined here, writing articles for trade publications is not always an easy or speedy process. Sometimes immigrants without a strong grasp of the English language may struggle with the writing, while others may find the process so arduous that they give up. The solution is partnering with a professional resource with a proven history of helping others achieve success as published authors.

About the Author:

Gerri Knilans is president of Trade Press Services. As marketing communications strategists, serving organizations of all sizes and types since 1995, the company provides writing, media outreach and general marketing support to help clients accelerate growth and generate more visibility, credibility and name recognition in their marketplaces. For additional information, please visit or send an email to

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