Matt HealeyTuesday,20 November 2012

The Snap

I was reading the New York Times today and stumbled across an article describing the challenges that an Iranian Olympic athlete, Afshin Noroozi, had in obtaining an O-1 Visa to enter the U.S. The O-1, also known as the “genius visa,” is intended for “Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement”. I had remembered a similar story about Shera Bechard being granted this type of Visa in the past.

The Download

I can understand and respect why the government wants to attract extraordinary people. What I find interesting is the definition of extraordinary as it relates to these two cases. Afshin had sought the visa on the grounds that he was an Olympic athlete finishing 65th in the 2008 games in table tennis. I do not want to get into the discussion on the merits of table tennis as a sport. It is recognized by the IOC, so let’s just take for granted that it is a sport. Shera was Miss November 2010.

From a purely visual perspective, the decision was correct. But by my reading of the standards does not indicate a visual component to the overall evaluation procedure. It is fair to say that Afshin should not have been granted the visa because his achievements in the field of table tennis does not qualify him as extraordinary. But I am also not sure that being Miss November 2010 puts you into the category of extraordinary either but stranger things have happened. Specifically, Jenny McCarthy being considered an expert on vaccines as a cause of Autism based on her qualifications. She was Miss October 1993.

Hat Tips

NYTReuters story on SheraO-1 Visa requirementsSheraJenny, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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