Under § Sec. 214.2(o) 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:
(A) 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
(B) At least three of the following forms of documentation:
( 1 ) 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;
( 2 ) 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;
( 3 ) 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;
( 4 ) 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;
( 5 ) 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
( 6 ) 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
(C) If the criteria in paragraph (o)(3)(iv) of this section do not readily apply to the beneficiary's occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary's eligibility.
So for the third evidentiary criteria, an applicant must show “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”. An applicant must demonstrate that they meet all of the requirements laid out in each evidentiary criteria section before USCIS will count that criteria as met. Here are the key points an applicant should note when determining whether or not they can meet this criteria.
“lead, starring, or critical role”
When USCIS determines if the role is “lead” or “starring”, they look to see where the beneficiary is in the hierarchy of the organization. If a beneficiary is the CEO, Founder, President, or some other role that is pretty high up in the organization, then they may be considered to have played a “lead” role. But what about a “critical” role? A beneficiary can be said to have played a “critical” role for an organization if their work has somehow brought essential help towards the organizations. Examples include performing as a lead role in a production that the organization produced. Or bringing huge attention and acclaim to the organization as a result of the beneficiary’s work. Ideally, a testimonial from the organization should attest to how the beneficiary has played a critical role for them and what benefits the organization has received as a result of the beneficiary’s work. However, this is only half of the evidentiary criteria, if the organization in itself is not distinguished, the fact the beneficiary has played a “lead, starring or critical” role is not enough to satisfy this criteria.
“organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation”
So how does an organization prove that they are distinguished. Certainly, longevity helps. If an organization has been around for a while, USCIS tends to regard them as distinguished, and less so if they have only been set up a few months ago. Other evidence of being distinguished can be the track record of the organization, any awards and prizes that the organization has won, and any form of press that the organization might have received for its work. The more evidence you can provide the better.
In short, if an applicant can demonstrate that the beneficiary has or will have performed a “lead, starring, or critical role” for “organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation” they will have met this evidentiary criteria and have made it one step closer to getting the O-1B visa.
For more information about the O1 / Artist visa check out our O1 / Artist Visa Application Guide and O1 / Artist Visa Immigration FAQ.
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