EB-1(a) for Folk Artists

Posted on September 19, 2007 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Q&A: How can folk artist immigrate to the U.S.?

Mr. Li asked:

I learned Sichuan brocade since I was very young.  With the help of several mentors and many years of hard work and practice, I got well known in the field and my works were recommended for exhibition in Hong Kong and Europe.  Currently, I am the executive director of the Sichuan Brocade Association.  Some of my foreign friends told me that with my background and achievement, I should be able to immigrate to the US.  I want to know whether it is true or not.  If it is true, how can I qualify for the green card?


Generally speaking, US immigration law welcomes extraordinary aliens from around the world, no matter whether they’re in arts, business or academics. The INA specially created the EB-1-A subcategory for these extraordinary aliens to apply for green card in the US.  Under this category, aliens with the required extraordinary ability were waived from Labor Certificate Process which is time consuming.

Aliens with extraordinary abilities, except those few who can demonstrate they are extraordinary by receiving major internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize or an Academy Award, need to provide three out of the ten types of evidence required by the INA.  For most of the aliens with extraordinary ability the following three requirements are easiest to meet:

  1. Evidence of the display of the alien’s work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  2. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales;
  3. Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought.  Such evidence shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation.

Not all exhibitions or showcases are qualified for the first type of evidence.  The USCIS will consider the influence of the exhibition or showcase.  Generally speaking, international exhibitions are more persuasive than domestic exhibitions.  Local exhibitions are normally not accepted.  Nevertheless, Sichuan brocade is unique in China, and thus the exhibition in China is carrying weight.  It may be more helpful, however, to have exhibitions abroad.  Meanwhile, the applicant also needs to explain how the exhibition chose works and related reports.  That is to say, the applicant needs to prove that the exhibition has high requirements on works and exhibitors and normal art works are not accepted by the exhibition.

For the second requirement, it is mainly suitable for performing artist and it is not applicable for you.  However, as you are the executive director of the Art Association, you can prefer to prove that you have performed “in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation”.  This requires you provide evidence of the influence of the organization and position you are in.

For the last requirement, it’s most helpful if you make an appearance on a major media outlet because of your extraordinary skills.

For art like Sichuan brocade, which has unique Chinese characteristics, you can prove you are a world class artist if you can prove that you have a good reputation and extraordinary ability in China.  From this perspective, you have obvious advantage.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.