The O-1 Visa provides an immigration option to foreign national artists, musicians, & entertainers who have “distinction” within their discipline.
So, what does distinction mean?
Distinction 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 to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.” 8 CFR §214.2(o)(3)(ii).
That probably doesn’t help too much, does it? So, how does one demonstrate distinction to the USCIS?
By receiving a significant national or international award (i.e Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award), or meeting at least three of the following criteria:
- Has performed, or will perform, services as a lead/staring participant in productions/events with distinguished reputations as shown by critical reviews, ads, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
- National/international recognition for achievements through critical reviews, other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major papers, trade journals/magazines, etc.;
- Has performed in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by media articles, testimonials, etc.;
- Has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success;
- Has achieved significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, recognized experts; or
- Has commanded or will command a high salary/other remuneration in relation to others in the field.