Green Cards for Entertainers
United States federal regulations relating to employment based immigrant visas (commonly known as green cards) provide several options for qualifed artists and entertainers who wish to reside in the United States on a permanent basis.
- EB1 Category: First Preference - Priority Workers
- EB2 Category: Second Preference - Individuals of Exceptional Ability in the Arts, Sciences, or Business
- EB3 Category: Third Preference - Skilled Workers, Professionals and Other Workers
EB1 Category: First Preference – Priority Workers
This category applies to aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts, science, education, business and athletics. This category does not require a job offer from an employer/agent or a labor certification to show there are no qualified U.S workers available to perform the position. In this category either a foreign national or an employer may file the immigrant petition.
For artists and entertainers, the EB1 category for aliens of extraordinary ability is an excellent option for those individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor and will continue to work in the United States in that field.
Criteria for EB1
Evidence that the alien has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise. The alien can establish this by showing he or she has received a significant one time achievement in the form of a major international award or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements of members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field;
Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications, or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field; evidence must include the title, date, and author of the material;
Participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied field of specialization;
Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic or business related contributions of major significance in the field;
Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
Display of the alien’s work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
Performed in a lead or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
Evidence the alien has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others in the field;
Commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.
If the above criteria does not apply to the alien’s occupation, comparable evidence can be used.
EB2 Category: Second Preference – Individuals of Exceptional Ability in the Arts, Sciences, or Business
This category applies to aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts who will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural interests, educational interests or welfare of the United States due to their extraordinary ability.
In this category, exceptional ability in the arts (including athletics), sciences or business means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the arts, science or business.
This category usually requires an offer of employment from a U.S. employer. There is a limited waiver available to the employment offer if the alien can show it is in the national interest significantly above that for prospective national benefit.
This category requires an approved labor certification to establish that there are no qualified U.S. workers available to fill the posiiton. There is a waiver available to the labor certifiation requirement if the petitioner can show an exemption would be in the national interest of the United States. There is another very limited waiver available that requires meeting criteria for a higher standard of exceptional than the regular EB2 standard.
Criteria for EB2
Must show at least 3 of the following:
Official academic record showing the alien has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;
Letters from current or former employer(s) showing at least 10 years of full time experience in the occupation for which he or she is sought;
License to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
Evidence the alien has commanded a salary or other remuneration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability;
Membership in professional associations;
Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations;
Comparable evidence may be used if the above standards do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation.
EB3 Category: Third Preference – Skilled Workers, Professionals and Other Workers
This category can be used for almost any position that does not qualify for EB1 or EB2.
An offer of employment by a U.S. employer is required for this category. An approved labor certification is also required to show that there are no qualified U.S. workers available to fill the position.
There is a backlog of applicants for immigrant visas (green cards) in this category and wait times to immigrate through this category can be lengthy and subject to unpredictability. In most cases foreign national artists and entertainers are encouraged to try to qualify for EB-1 or EB-2 petitions. However, in some cases, the foreign national will not qualify for those categories and therefore EB-3 remains a solid option for those who have a long term goal of immigrating to the United States and an employer who is willing to sponsor them.
EB-3 has three subcategories. They are:
Professionals, requiring that the alien have a bachelor’s degree and that the job require the degree.
Skilled Workers, requiring at least 2 years of experience in the field.
Other Worker, which covers any position that requires less than 2 years of experience provided the worker has the job experience required.