Is a dancer’s O-1 petition approvable, even if the dancer hasn’t won any recent major competition awards?

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October 16th, 2018
Caterina A. Ranieri, Anna Putintseva

There are times when cases presented to this office involve a dancer who has transitioned from being a highly successful competitive dancer to coach or performer. As more years pass between the dancer’s last competition and the dancer’s current work as a coach or performer, there may be concerns about using older results to support an O-1 petition. When these situations are presented, using older competitive results may lead to questions and result in the government issuing a Request For Evidence which will slow down a case’s progression, or ultimately lead a case down a path to denial. To avoid this scenario, we look to the other criteria to determine if the dancer can meet the designated threshold for approval.

An I-129 O-1 petition filed on behalf of a dancer must meet at least three criteria of six government designated criteria to be approved for O-1B artist classification (or 3 out of 8 criteria for O-1A athlete classification). It is therefore important that the evidence is presented in the strongest way possible so that the petition meets at least three criteria.

For example, if a dancer has been a soloist or lead dancer in major performances, is coaching high level dance students, has recently adjudicated competitions, has performed on a major television program, has commanded a high salary, etc., we use this information to put together a strong petition that is supported by the evidence and satisfies at least three criteria without depending on older competitive results.

We have obtained many O-1 approvals where the dancer’s competitive results are not used directly to satisfy a criterion, but instead used to tell the dancer’s story and discuss the dancer’s transition to performer, coach, adjudicator, etc. To determine if the dancer a studio wishes to sponsor meets the threshold of at least three criteria, it is best to consult with attorneys who have significant experience in this field. Our office is well-versed in this particular issue, and we would be happy to help you navigate all of these elements in order to achieve your studio’s goals.


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Thank you for your inquiry. We will direct your matter to the appropriate practice group and/or attorney and respond as quickly as possible.
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