The United States offers many opportunities for foreign actors, but getting approval for a visa requires an petition process that can be daunting. It is recommended that the petition process is started at least 45 days, but no more than one year, before the start date of the intended project. Any missteps or errors in the petition process can cause significant processing delays. An O-1 immigration lawyer from Tashjian Law Group with over 30 years of experience in immigration law can help the process to move forward as smoothly as possible.
What You Need to Get an Entertainment Visa
An Agent Representing You
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires that a petitioner file the petition on behalf of the foreign actor. An “agent” representing the U.S. employer, the foreign actor, or both, may act as petitioner. A foreign actor cannot act as petitioner, even if he or she is typically considered to be self-employed. Choosing the right agent is crucial: an agent familiar with your project but not immigration law could lack valuable insight into the visa application process, including how to correctly file a Form I-129.
Information Regarding Your Project
O-1 visas for actors are specifically nonimmigrant visas, so they only apply for a designated time period, and to work on a specific project. The maximum initial time frame is three years, but the visa can also be renewed indefinitely for up to three years at a time if there is a new event or project. Because these visas are constricted to a specific project and time frame, a detailed timeline of the project, including all the locations where you will be working, is a necessary part of the petition process. You will also be required to provide a copy of the written contract with the U.S. employer or, if this is unavailable, a written summary of an oral agreement.
Evidence of “Extraordinary Achievement”
What sets apart the O-1 visa is that it is intended for individuals who have demonstrated “extraordinary achievement” in motion picture or television productions. As an actor, some of the most compelling evidence you can provide would be awards that you have either received or been nominated for, or critically acclaimed productions in which you have previously been involved.
The ultimate goal is to show that you have accomplished more than would be expected from an individual in your field, and that you are therefore a renowned or leading entity in your field. National and international recognition can both play a role in this aspect of your visa petition. Written consultations from relevant management organizations or labor unions will also be required.
Visas for Actors: An Attorney Who Can Help
At Tashjian Law Group, we are available to help at any point in the visa petition process, whether you are applying for a visa for the first time, or attempting to renew an existing O-1 for a project that is taking more time than you originally planned. We work both with foreign actors and other performers, and with U.S. and foreign-based employers.
If you are an actor seeking to enter the U.S. under an O-1 entertainment visa, or a U.S. employer trying to bring in foreign talent for a project, we have the expertise and experience necessary to assist you in navigating the visa application process, at any stage. To learn more about how we may be able to assist you, please contact us for more information.