Do You Think You Are Extraordinary? – Work Visas for Artists

Thinking about coming to the United States to work in the entertainment industry?  A popular visa option for artists is the Extraordinary Ability Visa or more often called the O Visa  So the first question we need to ask is  “Am I extraordinary? Am I extraordinary enough to get this visa?”.  What does extraordinary ability mean to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service(USCIS)?  I will tell you this, it is definitely not the same as what you and I would think is extraordinary!  In order to qualify for an O visa you must have either won an internationally recognized award (i.e. Oscar, Nobel peace prize, etc.) or satisfy at least three of the following requirements:

  • Have you won lesser awards? Awards that not everyone in the world knows how important they are, but they are important somewhere.
  • Have you performed as a lead participant in an event that has a distinguished reputation? Were you important to an event that had a “WOW” factor.
  • Is there national/international material published by or about you? People need to be talking about you and writing about you.
  • Have you performed in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation? Have you been key to any really fancy and important organizations?
  • Have you had a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success. Have you been involved in a production that sold a lot of tickets and made a ton of money?
  • Will extraordinary people write extraordinary things about you?
  • Do you get paid a lot for what you do? In other words do you get paid more than others that do the same thing as you do?

If you can say that you meet any three of the above items than congratulations you will likely be considered extraordinary in the eyes of USCIS and may qualify for an O visa. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t clearly meet three of the above, or have not won an Oscar yet, there is still a possibility that you could qualify. Most extraordinary people that I have met over the years truly don’t believe that they are extraordinary when they walk through my door, but after a little probing we see that they are more amazing than they actually thought! The extraordinary ability visa is not for everybody, but is one of the most sought after in the entertainment world. It is a good place to start if you are looking to work in the United States and have been working in your field for some time.

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