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EB1A - Evaluating Your Work Displayed at Artistic Exhibitions or Showcases

Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases

The purpose of this post is to provide tools that help you evaluate whether you could make an argument that you satisfy the 7th of the 10 EB-1A criteria, that you have evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.


The language of this bullet denotes this criteria is mostly for artists. Specifically, artists with the ability to showcase or exhibit their work at a venue or concert. For example, photographers, painters, sculptors, musicians, animators, illustrators, fashion designers, graphic designers, textile artists, multimedia artists, and possibly even tattooists may be able to meet the evidentiary requirement here. The tone of the bullet also suggests the work should have a visual component (the ability to be displayed). Basically, if you can look at it, it can be displayed. This means evidence for musicians and dancers used to satisfy this criteria may require a more creative approach than evidence used for painters, photographers, or textile artists.

If your work has been showcased, also note that the plain language of this bullet lists “exhibitions” or “showcases”. The plural form of these words denotes you likely will need evidence showing your work is being exhibited at multiple events showing continual recognition of the extraordinary qualities of your work and widespread attention to your growing image and presence in your industry. Thus, displaying your work regularly in many different locations nationally or internationally is going to make for a much stronger case than providing evidence that your work was displayed at a venue once or twice.


An even stronger application exists if your work makes money. Strong EB-1 applications are bolstered by financial success. The argument goes as follows, if tickets for your concert or art exhibits are more expensive or you charge more money for a download or to purchase your artwork then you must be more extraordinary than others in your field.


In questioning your work displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases, USCIS officer’s may ask questions such as the following:

  • Was the artistic exhibition or showcase displaying your work distinguished?

  • What is the location of the exhibition?

  • What famous art has been displayed in the past at the exhibition?

  • Is the work that was exhibited or showcased yours?

  • How did the venue or location select your work to be showcased?

  • Was the selection criteria for your work indicative of the extraordinary ability of the artist?

  • How were you selected to participate in the event?

  • What was the selection protocol?

  • Was the event well publicized?

  • Was the event well attended?

  • Were celebrities in attendance?

  • Was the exhibition award winning?

  • Was your work the main reason people attended the event?

  • Was the venue appropriate for your work?

  • Compared to other exhibitions, how popular was the one your art was displayed at?

  • What amount of your work was displayed?

  • What was the quality of your work that was displayed?

  • Was your work exhibited or showcased at multiple events?

  • Is your work frequently exhibited or showcased?

What evidence can be used to show the officer reviewing your case you are extraordinary, convincing them they should approve your case? There is a wide range of evidence that could work to show USCIS that your art products are extraordinary because of the venue, exhibit, museum, fashion show, or event they were showcased or featured at. Here are some examples of evidence you can prepare:

  • Photos of the display of your work

  • Evidence that the venue was an artistic exhibition or showcase

  • Evidence that you are the primary creator of the work

  • Photos of you creating the work

  • Promotional materials

  • Playbills/programs/posters

  • Press clippings

  • Reviews by art critics

  • Storyboards

  • Blueprints

  • Copies of original works (including transcripts of recordings)

  • Receipts or sales evidence (downloads sold, tickets sold, etc.)

  • Emails from venues, agents, artists, managers, etc.

  • Fliers, pamphlets, digital invitations, advertisements, etc. regarding your work

  • Substantial audience evidence

  • Discussion of your work

  • Evidence regarding the prestige of the venue

  • Criteria used by the venue in selecting your work

  • Evidence regarding attendees to the showcase or exhibition

  • Venue background information regarding history, purpose, and prestige

  • Evidence the show or exhibition was curated or juried

In some cases, only a few items would be needed for a good application. In other cases, you will find you need to provide exhaustive information to create a clear picture of your work and the event featuring it. Each EB-1A applicant is unique and deserves a unique approach to their individual application. Start collecting the evidence needed for your application now! You are in charge of your story. Evidence doesn’t always last forever, don’t wait to start collecting the items needed for your petition.


A few additional artistic exhibition or show tips and insights:

  • Central to this bullet is that the work being displayed is your work. You should be the artist whose work is on display in order to satisfy this criteria. If you assisted the artist in some way, then it wouldn’t be considered your work.

  • Musicians, sound artists, dancers, and other artists who don’t produce works that are easily displayed are more likely to get an RFE than those who produce something that can be displayed in a museum, art show, exhibition, or venue. You may still meet the criteria for this bullet, you may just have to provide more convincing evidence. Courts have found that visual arts are the medium this criteria applies to.

  • Stay fresh and be revolutionary! Major breakthroughs in your industry and evidence of continued innovation and relevance can make or break your petition.

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. In practice, this means that what worked for your friend might not work for you and sometimes what didn’t work for a friend might work for you. I constantly hear people say that they were told by a friend that their achievement wouldn’t work because it didn’t work in their case. Sometimes, it is just a matter of getting your case before the right adjudicator on the right day or presenting your arguments in a new or creative way.


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! We are offering free consultations through the end of January for aspiring EB-1 and NIW candidates. 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 available):

  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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