Shera Bechard, the Canadian-born former girlfriend of Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner, would not be an obvious candidate for the special visas that the U.S. government reserves for "individuals with extraordinary ability."I'll easily trade her for a hundred of the people who are always threatening to run away to Canada when things don't go their way in elections or policy, but isn't she afraid of losing her "free" Canadian health care system?
Playboy magazine named Bechard Miss November in 2010 (NSFW), and she also started an online photo-sharing craze called "Frisky Friday." Neither seems quite on the level of an "internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize," which the government cites as a possible qualification.
But Los Angeles immigration lawyer Chris Wright argued that Bechard's accomplishments earned her a slot. The government ultimately agreed.
The O-1 visa allows individuals of "extraordinary ability" to come to the United States for up to three years, and can be extended. British journalist Piers Morgan used one when he replaced Larry King on his late-night TV show, Wright said.Taking your clothes off for Hugh Hefner takes extraordinary ability, one that require excellent genes, hence, the "gen" in genius visa. I know I couldn't do it, at least and make any money.
The EB-1 is similar, but leads to a green card and permanent residency rather than a temporary stay, with "extraordinary ability" being one of the ways to qualify - along with being an outstanding professor or researcher, or a multinational executive.
Foreign entrepreneurs have another option - the Immigrant Investor Program, or EB-5 visa - but it requires a capital investment of at least $500,000 and the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.The Classical Liberal links to this in "Hot Legs!" Special thanks to Wombat-Socho who featured this in his weekly Rule 5 post "Touch and Go" over at The Other McCain.
By contrast, no proof of personal wealth or investment in the United States is required for the O-1 or the EB-1.
There is also no cap on the number of O-1s that the government can award each year; about 12,280 were approved in 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said, up from 9,478 in 2006. It issued about 25,000 EB-1s last year, below their cap of 40,000.