FAQ: For Persons of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts, What Are the Basic Requirements for Getting O-1 Status?

The O-1 category is set aside for a principal beneficiary with extraordinary ability. The law establishes three different standards for the O-1 category. The standard that we will look at in this blog post applies to individuals in the arts (not including individuals in the film or television industries).

“A Great Day in Harlem,” a 1958 photo featuring dozens of jazz artists with extraordinary ability, from Dizzy Gillespie, to Charles Mingus, to Sonny Rollins, to Thelonious Monk, to Count Basie, to Art Blakey.

To get O-1 status under this standard, you must show “distinction” in the “arts.”

We’ll look more deeply into “distinction” and the “arts.”

What is the Required “Distinction”?

“Distinction” means a high level of achievement in arts as shown by skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that you are described as prominent, leading, or well known in the arts.

To establish the individual’s distinction, USCIS rules provide that you must be recognized as being prominent in his or her field, as demonstrated by:

  • evidence that you have been nominated for or have received significant national or international awards or prizes in your particular field, such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award,

Alternatively, you can show recognition of your prominence by presenting documentation showing at least three of the following:

  • you performed or will perform a lead or starring role in productions or events that have a distinguished reputation,
  • you have commanded or now command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field,
  • other evidence that is comparable to what is listed above.
  • you have received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged,
  • you have a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes,
  • you performed a lead, starring or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation (shown by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials),
  • you achieved national or international recognition for achievements (shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about you in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications),

What Are the “Arts”?

The rules define the term “art” to include any field of creative activity or endeavor, such as the fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts.

It is worth noting that individuals engaged in arts do not include only the principal creators, but also other essential individuals, such as set designers, lighting designers, choreographers, conductors, coaches, makeup artists, and so on.