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EB1A - Evaluating Your Commercial Successes in the Performing Arts

Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts

The purpose of this post is to provide tools that help you evaluate whether you could make an argument that you satisfy the 10th of the 10 EB-1A criteria, that you have experienced commercial successes in the performing arts.

If you are a highly successful business person, scientist, engineer, or any other profession that is not the performing arts then it is very likely you will not be able to use this criteria. You always have the option to submit comparable evidence, and we would suggest that if you have had significant commercial success that you should include that evidence regardless of your industry.

That said, this bullet is really specific to the performing arts which includes, but is not limited to, people in the acting, singing, dancing, opera, public speaking, comedy, magic, circus, or similar field. It is helpful to think of performing arts as the type of art that can be presented to a live audience.

Thus, a successful argument for this bullet starts by establishing you are in the performing arts. Next, you need to show you have achieved commercial success. Last, you will also need to prove you had a substantial role in the cause of success. Your contributions to the performance need to play a large role in its success or USCIS will have a hard time approving your case.


In practice, this means that for commercially successful groups it is relatively easy to establish that the lead singer, star of the play, writer of the play, director of the composition or movie, etc. played a key role in the production. It is going to be much more difficult to argue that the lead singer’s strength and conditioning coach played a key role in the production’s success (I’m not saying this is impossible, but it would be very difficult to prove!). Like the rest of the EB-1 evaluation, adjudicators subjectively evaluate your role in the commercial success of a performance. That is why it is vitally important that you provide good evidence that clearly establishes your role in the success of your production. The focus for this bullet should be that the closer you establish your ties to the commercial success the better your chances of success with this criterion.


In evaluating your commercial successes in the performing arts, USCIS officer’s may ask questions such as the following:

  • Have you had commercial success in the performing arts?

  • What is commercial success in your industry?

  • Is there documentation of your success?

  • How successful are you compared to others in your industry?

  • Have you experienced commercial success on more than one occasion?

  • Whether you were adequately associated with the cause of the commercial success?

  • What was your contribution to the project?

  • Was your contribution directly related to the success of the production?

  • Where do you perform?

  • Have you performed at prestigious locations?

  • Have you performed at a large number of national or international locations?

What counts as evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts for EB-1A?

Items which may work to prove an actor or entertainers commercial success in the performing arts include but are not limited to:

  • Box office receipts

  • Audio or video sales receipts (for records, downloads, disks, etc.)

  • Volume comparison to other top artists in your field

  • Media coverage such as press releases, advertisements, coverage, interviews, newspaper articles, industry publications, critic reviews, etc.

  • Clear statement regarding your contributions to the success of the performance

  • Screenshot, ticket, or other evidence of the price of admission to an event

  • Information about the venue hosting the event

  • Publications establishing your role in a film

  • Playbills

  • Chart positions or rankings

  • Royalty checks

  • Expert opinions/testimonials from an association or extraordinary individual in your industry

  • Posters, DVDs, screenshots of the production being available on a streaming service

  • Comparisons of your remuneration compared to other participants in the event

  • Public commentary regarding the performance

  • Awards received for the performance

  • Evidence of the reputation of a reviewing body

In some cases, only a few items would be needed for a good application. In other cases, you will find you need to provide more information to create a clear picture of your accomplishments. Each EB-1A applicant is unique and deserves a unique approach to their individual application. For now, it is useful for you to consider what evidence you should be gathering to prove the commercial success of your performances and your contributions to their success. When gathering this evidence, it is also helpful to collect documentation of how your success compares to others in your field. The most important part of your EB-1 application is your ability to show that you have risen to the top of your field.


A few additional commercial successes in the performing arts tips:

  • Fame is not an essential element of this criteria.

  • It is crucial that you compare your success to others in your industry. Some cases would be obvious to an officer reviewing your case (that you were the lead performer in hundreds of prestigious venues with large capacity with average ticket prices exceeding $200 each resulting in millions of dollars worth of revenue). Thus, you will need to gather evidence that shows you are more successful or as successful as your peers that are at the top of the field.

  • Performance alone is insufficient. You also have to show commercial success. The fact that you starred in a television show alone won’t convince USCIS that you are extraordinary.

  • Purchasing time in front of an audience is not evidence of commercial success

  • “Standing room only” does not mean that you attracted a large audience. If the venue only seats 300 then the impact of “standing room only” means something substantially different than it would for a venue that seats 20,000.

  • Supporting members have an uphill battle proving their level of contribution to the success of a performance. Creating a clever argument regarding your degree of impact on the project is critical for your EB-1A argument.

  • Success doesn’t necessarily mean you became rich from your commercial performances. Maybe it means that you made someone else rich or that you simply achieved a high level of success compared to your peers. This could take on many forms of evidence such as showing you performed at the most prestigious venues in the country, that you attracted record setting audiences, or that your performances received high levels of media attention and coverage.

We hope you have enjoyed these 10 blog posts on each of the 10 EB-1A bullets. If you wish to contact our firm to assist with your EB-1 application don’t hesitate to reach out!

Remember, in making an EB-1 argument you have to show you meet the criteria and then USCIS will also decide if what you accomplished is extraordinary enough for the EB-1 benefit during their final merits determination. If an officer believes you satisfied 3 or more of the 10 criteria, the application must then be judged to decide whether you are extraordinary. Because of the second level of review (final merits determination) determining if you are extraordinary using Kazarian standards, there is a higher percentage of RFEs, NOIDs, and denials in this category. The reality is, USCIS has an extremely high standard for EB-1 visas. Good luck preparing your EB-1 cases!

Our firm won’t charge you just for reaching out! If you would like your qualifications evaluated (to see if you qualify or to get ideas on what you can do to improve your EB-1 or NIW resume) please contact our firm at blisonbee@lisonbeeimmigrationlaw.com with answers to the following questions:

  1. What is your area of expertise (in 2-5 words)?

  2. What nationally or internationally recognized awards in your field of endeavor have you received?

  3. What memberships in associations in your field do you possess that require outstanding achievements from members?

  4. Have you or your work been featured as published material in trade publications or other major media? If so, who published your work?

  5. Have you judged the work of others (i.e. peer review of journal articles, judge at competition, dissertation committee member, peer review for government funding program)? If so, how many times?

  6. Has your work been used by someone to make money (commercialized)? If so, explain:

  7. Have you obtained any patents or similar achievements because of your research? If so, explain:

  8. Link to Google Scholar (if not available, ResearchGate could work):

  9. Current Wage:

  10. Have you been employed in critical capacity? If so, where and in what capacity?

For more information see prior posts about EB-1 criteria:

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