Murthy Success Story: EB1 / EA Approval for Conductor of Music

At the Murthy Law Firm, we receive many inquiries from individuals who wish to file cases in the EB1, Extraordinary Ability (EA), category. EA approval has always been difficult to obtain and current adjudication trends have made this increasingly so. An applicant must establish being in the top few percent of his/her particular field, under subjective adjudication standards. The recent success shared here is of an EB1 approval for an EA case for a foreign national in an artistic field – a conductor. We appreciate the generosity of our client for allowing her experience to be shared with MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers. The information of any client is kept confidential and none is shared without explicit, written permission.

The EB1 Extraordinary Ability Category

The EA category is restrictive. It is appropriate for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. The qualifications must be demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. There must be extensive documentation of the recognition of achievements in the particular field. One of the issues faced by those trying to establish extraordinary ability in the arts is that evidence of their talent can be difficult to quantify. Success as a scientist or researcher may be proven with tangible evidence, such as publications, citations, and utilization of their contributions in research. It can be more difficult to show proof of success in an artistic endeavor.

Initial Filing of the Extraordinary Ability Petition

The legal team at the Murthy Law Firm worked with our client to obtain the evidence needed to support her extraordinary role within her field. We prepared the initial EA petition for submission to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition highlighted her outstanding artistic achievements and her international acclaim in the field of conducting. The evidence included documentation of her having received various awards and the numerous mentions and reviews of her concerts by the mass media. This media attention included prestigious publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Also highlighted were her extensive credentials and work in her field. This work included conducting at highly select venues, as well as for internationally renowned orchestras. We emphasized the leading and critical role she plays in her current position as a conductor for an internationally renowned orchestra. Her significance in her field was put into context by strongly-worded reference letters from appropriate individuals recognized as music experts.

Receipt of an RFE

Notwithstanding the strong initial filing, the USCIS had unresolved questions about the applicant’s qualifications for the EB1 category. A request for evidence (RFE) was issued, which stated that the petition and supporting evidence had not yet established eligibility for this “very restrictive visa classification.”

The USCIS maintained that the applicant’s awards were not sufficient to satisfy the awards criteria, as they were mainly fellowships and scholarships. The USCIS also maintained that the newspaper articles submitted mentioned the client, but would only be considered if they were mainly about the client and her work. The USCIS also argued that the artistic display criterion related only to visual artistry, and thus was not applicable in this particular case.

The USCIS requested additional evidence of the client’s leading and critical role in the orchestras, above and beyond the simple fact that “every orchestra performance needs a conductor.” Finally, the USCIS reiterated the fact that comparable evidence may be submitted if the above criteria do not apply in this case.

Murthy Obtains Approval of EA Category after RFE

The Murthy Law Firm responded to the RFE and, ultimately, the case was approved. In the RFE response, we demonstrated that the USCIS was in error in finding that the newspaper articles about the client constituted mere mentions of the client’s work. In fact, we demonstrated that the majority of the articles focused solely on the client’s work and provided glowing reviews of her artistic ability. We provided additional documentation to confirm the importance of the particular publications.

Our team provided extensive, additional information on the international stature and renown of the orchestras for which our client had conducted, and her role as a conductor. We expanded upon her original artistic contributions to the field, including multimedia symphonic productions and cross-cultural events. In addition, based upon an opinion issued by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), we argued that the artistic display criterion applies to musicians as well as visual artists.

We submitted additional supporting letters from leaders in the field. Included in this evidence was one such letter from an internationally renowned musician, whose name could be properly categorized as a household name, well-known to the majority of the general public. The Extraordinary Ability case was approved in a very short time following our response to the USCIS.


At the Murthy Law Firm we fight to win every case for our clients. So, of course, we were thrilled with the favorable result. This case demonstrates that the EB1, Extraordinary Ability, category is obtainable for the select few who can meet the exacting standards. However, the evidence submitted will not be accepted at face value – especially in today’s climate. It will be scrutinized carefully, and it is necessary to establish the prestige of particular awards, the importance of publications, and the overall contributions of the individual to the particular field. Even cases that are appropriate for approval will often be challenged, at least initially, by the USCIS. Those who wish to determine their eligibility for the EB1 EA category may contact our office for assistance. We have extensive experience in filing EB1s and obtaining approvals for our eligible clients.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.