by Jon Santiago
I've already written about visas and the Spoleto Festival. I thought I wouldn't come back to the topic. But no. To paraphrase Jeff Lebowski, I was not privy to the new [stuff]. (We strive to be family-friendly here, folks!)
The new stuff came to light during Joy Kills Sorrow's show at the Cistern. It was made public that their lead singer, Emma Beaton, is an ALIEN. And officially recognized as such by the United States gubmint, no less. That's right. Don't let Beaton's winsome Canadian good looks fool you. Behind that deceptively very-nearly-American facade is an ALIEN. Not just any alien, either. With her O-1 work visa, she's officially designated "An Alien of Extraordinary Ability."
There are things you just cannot make up.
The official line on these visas comes from the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as follows:
"The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements." (Emphasis mine.)
Know someone who wants to get their mitts on one of these visas? Let's say your buddy is an artist.
"Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts."
Okay, what do we need to show you guys to prove my buddy's "distinction?"
You'll need to fill out a Form I-129. And provide a bunch of supporting documentation. Library cards in good standing won't cut it. We're talking proof of membership in associations in the field, and/or "receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor," (like an MTV award?) and/or "a high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence," and/or a few other possibilities. There are eight acceptable means of establishing your distinction. You only need to provide three. Then you can work in the States and salt away some genuine greenbacks for up to three years.
Of course, you can forgo all this rigamarole if you, like fewer than a dozen people a year, have been awarded a Nobel prize. That'll get you in a like a shot. Think about that.
This means that even if President Obama was not already born in the USA, he would still be a shoo-in for an O-1 work visa, on account of that Nobel Peace Prize up there on the shelf with his Harvard Law degree and bowling trophies.
NOTE: Bad breaking news for you, Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Your 2006 Ig Nobel Peace prize, awarded for your invention of the electromechanical teenager repellant? Lovely as that prize is, it doesn't count. Sorry, buddy.