Playboy's Miss November 2010, Shera Bechard may not seem like a genius, but the United States Government has granted her a work visa based on the argument that she qualifies.
Bechard, who is Canadian born, recently received her 0-1s (Genius) work visa thanks to efforts by immigration lawyer Chris Wright. While the 0-1s is typically reserved for individuals who have made an outstanding contribution or received an internationally recognized award, Wright was able to successfully sell Bechard as just such an individual.
Ex-girlfriend of Playboy creator Hugh Hefner, Bechard started the popular Frisky Friday photo sharing trend online. She has also graced the pages of Hef's magazine several times. But as to whether these contributions truly classify as outstanding, well I guess the U.S. Government thinks so.
Apparently, U.S. businesses regularly exploit the flexibility of what immigration officials consider an extraordinary ability to get foreigners admitted in to the country. In many cases, it has been used legitimately to advance science and create job growth, but increased popularity in technology circles is making the visa a target for controversy.
Take a look at the requirements for 0-1 Visa eligibility:
The individual must possess skills that are extraordinary within the field of sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or within the field of motion picture or television industry. The individual must submit sufficient documentation to support their extraordinary ability petition. Extraordinary ability in the field of art means distinction demonstrated by a high level of achievement in the field. Extraordinary ability in the fields of business, science, education and athletics require a higher showing of expertise indicating that the applicant has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
The U.S. government gave out about 12,000 1-0s Genius visas last year, compared with only about 9,000 six years ago. There is no cap on the number of these type of visas the immigration department can offer, and they can be good for up to three years, with an option to indefinitely extend in one year increments.
Obviously, there has been an increase in the number of these visas being issued, but as to whether they are truly becoming a problem, I found nothing substantial to support that claim. Regardless, I think we will find few to dispute Bechard's pass to live and work in this country.
(Photos courtesy of Guysnation.com)