O-1B Extraordinary Ability in Arts

Extraordinary Ability Visas (O-1B) For Arts  

In the arts, extraordinary ability means “distinction” – which is defined as a high level of achievement in the field of arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.  This category requires the petitioner to establish only that the artist is “prominent in his or her field of endeavor.”

By comparison, the standards for O-1 aliens in the fields of business, education, athletics and the sciences are said to be “extremely high and should be reserved only for those aliens who have reached the very top of their occupation or profession.”

To qualify as an alien of extraordinary ability in the field of arts, the alien must be recognized as being prominent in his or her field of endeavor as demonstrated by the following:

Evidence that the alien has been nominated for, or has been the recipient of, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award; or at least three of the following forms of documentation:

  • Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications contracts, or endorsements;
  • Evidence that the alien has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  • Evidence that the alien has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the alien has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements; or
  • Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence; or

If the above criteria readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, comparable evidence may be submitted to establish eligibility.

Extraordinary Ability Visas (O-1B) For Motion Picture or Television

Extraordinary achievement in respect to motion picture and television productions means a high level of accomplishment which is shown by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered—to the extent that the alien is recognized as outstanding, leading, or well-known in the field.

Awards such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy or a Director’s Guild Award would certainly qualify the alien; however, even if he/she has not received such an award there may be sufficient other evidence submitted to establish that he or she has attained a high level of accomplishment in the television or motion picture industry. The regulations do not limit these individuals to the small percentage who have risen to the top of their field.

To qualify as an alien of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry, the alien must be recognized as having a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement as evidenced by the following:

Evidence that the alien has been nominated for, or has been the recipient of, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award; or at least three of the following forms of documentation:

  • Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications contracts, or endorsements;
  • Evidence that the alien has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  • Evidence that the alien has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the alien has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements; or
  • Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Legal Resources

INA

Regulations

Adjudicators Field Manual

USCIS Web Page

USCIS O-1 FAQs

USCIS RFE Template I-129 O-1B Motion Pictures and Television Production

USCIS Contact Information for O & P Consultation (Advisory Opinion) Organizations

USCIS Policy Memo on O Petition Validity Period [July 2010]

USCIS Policy Memo on Requirements for Agents and Sponsors for the O and P Visas [Nov 2009]

USCIS Stakeholder Conference re: O Visas Agents as Petitioners [April 2011]

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