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What is extraordinary ability?

How do I determine myself to be an artist of extraordinary ability?

Work permits include the temporary O-1B or the permanent EB-1 green card. Similar in nature, the O-1B is assessed on outstanding achievement in the arts, while the EB-1 seeks extraordinary ability in the artist and entertainer.

Understanding how the USCIS examine an application is the basis for deducing extraordinary ability from the Immigrations Officers point of view. They have a list of requirements for you to satisfy.

You only need to satisfy 3 of the criteria to qualify

Remember you only need to satisfy three of these criteria to qualify as extraordinary according the USCIS requirements. However in our experience if you have evidence to satisfy 3 you will invariably satisfy 5.

To qualify the USCIS ask for evidence of receipt of one grand prize – this can be an Oscar, Pulitzer, Nobel – most applicants do not have these and so the USCIS to identify valuable and beneficial artists worthy of the EB1-EA created the application structured to allow artist show their impact across ten possible criteria, needing only to qualify in three. This levels the playing field on which to prove your extraordinary ability.

The EB1-EA artist green card is neither fairy tale, nor myth, nor is it impossible to get. It is a paper application, designed to allow you prove your eligibility to live and work in the United States, to create art and benefit its people and culture. The criteria are designed to have you prove your sustained acclaim through various external means, including reviews, testimonials, lesser awards, membership or critical roles in outstanding organizations, exhibition in highly regarded venues, and commercial success. Within our guide we break down how to present your evidence, how to word your explanatory cover letter(petition letter), and give many examples of what makes for strong and compelling proof.

The application decision was shaped by Kazarian who was denied and brought the USCIS to court Kazarian v. USCIS, 596 F.3d 1115 (9 Cir. 2010) The USCIS now has the Kazarian’s two-step test: (1) Determine whether the petitioner has submitted evidence that meets the one major prize or three criteria; and (2) Determine whether the evidence submitted is sufficient to demonstrate that the beneficiary or self-petitioner meets the required high level of expertise for the extraordinary ability preference category during a final merits determination.

It is with this information that we have been successful in our application and in building this guide the success of many others. Understanding the criteria is the key to a great application. 

The Artist Green Card is not an impossible feat. If you are a working artist, either you are ready for it, or you are ready to focus your career to be ready for it soon. Qualifying for the EB1-EA is tough. While the criteria are similar to the O1-B, the level of scrutiny your evidence comes under is far more thorough. You must decide if you are ready. You can take non-committal consultations with attorneys to help you judge if your evidence will pass muster, but ultimately it is up to you. If you feel that you are not quite ready, then use our guide as a blueprint to develop your career and build your evidence in such a way as to better qualify you in the future.

Build your successful application from our fundamentals.

Our guides contain all you need to prove to the USCIS that you qualify as “extraordinary”. We give you actionable step-by-step analysis of the extraordinary criteria to build your petition letter and evidence.

Check out our guides here

A major reason for Denials and RFE’s (Request for Evidence) is problems with the evidence submitted to prove extraordinary ability – insufficient documentation, irrelevant or outdated information, lack of peer recognition, or failure to meet at least three of the ten criteria. Our guides give you all the information on how to ensure your application is the strongest it can be. We offer EB1-A and O-1 guides.

We give you ALL the information you need to DIY/self-file your application or focus and speed your application when working with an immigration attorney.

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To learn more about our visa journey and our step by step guide, which includes a further analysis of the criteria and wording on how to argue its importance in a petition letter, read here.

Check out our other Frequently Asked Questions.


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