How to Get an Artist Visa to the USA [Step-by-Step Guide]

How to Get an Artist Visa to the USA - Step-by-Step Guide

 

As an artist, you may qualify for a special visa category known as the O1B visa or “artist visa.” With an artist visa, you can live and work in the United States for extended periods of time.

 

In this article, I’m going to discuss how to get an artist visa, step-by-step.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. My team and I would be happy to answer your questions.

 

Overview:

 

1. What is an Artist Visa?

 

2. What are the Benefits of an Artist Visa?

 

3. What are the Requirements to Get an Artist Visa?

 

4. What Documents are Needed to Apply for an Artist Visa?

 

5. What is the Process of Getting an Artist Visa?

 

6. Conclusion

 

1. What is an Artist Visa

 

  • The artist visa, also known as the O1B visa, is a non-immigrant visa category for people with an extraordinary ability in the arts.

 

  • The O1B visa is also available for people with a history of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

 

2. What are the Benefits of an Artist Visa?

 

  • You can live and work in the USA for extended periods of time

 

  • There is no limit to the number of extensions you can get

 

  • You can work for multiple employers in the United States

 

  • The artist visa is a dual-intent visa, so you can intend to remain in the US temporarily and simultaneously have the intent to possibly immigrate to the US and become a lawful permanent resident in the future.

 

  • You spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old can move with you to the United States

 

  • Your assistants may qualify for O2 visa to join you in the US.

 

 

3. What are the Requirements to Get an Artist Visa?

 

There are 5 primary requirements to get an artist visa:

 

  • You must have an extraordinary ability in the arts

 

  • You must be coming to the United States to work in your field of extraordinary ability

 

  • Your employment in the United States must qualify as an “event”

 

  • Your petition must be filed by a US employer, US agent, or foreign employer through a US agent.

 

  • You must get an advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.

 

i. Extraordinary Ability in the Arts

 

  • To get an artist visa, you must demonstrate that you have an extraordinary ability in the arts.

 

Extraordinary Ability

 

  • Extraordinary ability means that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that you have achieved distinction.

 

  • Distinction is defined as “a high level of achievement in the field of arts, as 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.” [8 CFR Section 214.2(o)(3)(ii)]

 

Arts

 

  • Arts is defined as “any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. Aliens engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers but other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians, and animal trainers.”

 

How to Prove Extraordinary Ability

 

There are 2 ways to show that you have extraordinary ability in the arts:

 

  • Being nominated and/or receiving significant national or international awards or prizes;

 

  • Or, meeting at least 3 of the criteria for the O1B visa (listed below)

 

Nomination and or Receipt of Significant National or International Awards or Prizes

 

  • One way to satisfy the extraordinary ability requirement for the O1B visa is if you are nominated for and/or receive significant national or international awards or prizes in your field such as an Academy Award or a Grammy.

 

  • If you haven't been nominated for and/or received such awards, you will have to satisfy at least 3 of the evidentiary criteria for an O1B visa.

 

Evidentiary Criteria for O1B Visa

 

If you haven't been nominated for and/or received significant national or international awards or prizes, you will have to satisfy at least 3 of the following criteria:

 

  • You have  performed, and will perform, services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation, as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications contracts, or endorsements.

 

  • You have achieved national or international recognition for achievements in your field, evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about you in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications.

 

  • You have performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.

 

  • You have a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings, and other occupations achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications.

 

  • You have received significant recognition for your achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in your field.

 

  • You have commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for your services compared to others in your field.

 

  • Note: If any of the above criteria do not apply to your field, you may submit comparable evidence in place of that criteria to prove your eligibility for an O1b visa.

 

Prove Sustained National or International Acclaim

 

  • In addition to proving that you meet 3 of the above criteria, you must also show that you have sustained your national or international acclaim.

 

  • If the evidence you submit to meet 3 of the above criteria is relatively recent, you will have an easier time showing that you’ve maintained your acclaim throughout the years.

 

  • If the evidence that you submit to meet the criteria above does not show that you’ve maintained your acclaim in the field, be sure to include evidence that does show sustained acclaim.

 

ii. You must be coming to the United States to work in your field of extraordinary ability

 

  • Another requirement to get an artist visa is that you must come to the USA to continue to work in your field of extraordinary ability.

 

  • Example: If you extraordinary ability is in painting, your petition for an artist visa should show that you will be coming to the US to continue to work as a painter and not an actor.

 

iii. Your employment in the United States must qualify as an “event”

 

  • In order to qualify for an artist visa, the work you are doing in the United States must be considered an “event.”

 

  • The definition of event is very broad and can include a book tour, a lecture series, or traditional employment. A series of related activities can also qualify as an event.

 

  • With an artist visa, you are not permitted to engage in self-employment or freelance work.

 

  • To get your artist visa approved, you must also submit evidence of the work you will be doing in the US (such as a work contract).

 

iv. Your petition must be filed by a US employer, US agent, or foreign employer through a US agent.

 

  • To get an artist visa, you are not permitted to petition on your own behalf.

 

  • Instead, you US employer, US agent, or foreign employer through a US agent must file a petition on your behalf.

 

  • If you will be working for multiple employers, 1 US agent can file a petition on behalf of all employers.

 

  • If you will be working for a foreign employer in the US, a US agent can file a petition for you on behalf of the foreign employer

 

v. You must get an advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.

 

  • In order to get an artist visa, you must get an advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.

 

 

  • The advisory opinion should discuss the work you will be doing in the USA as well as your qualifications.

 

  • The advisory opinion can either be in favor of approving your petition, not in favor of approving your petition, or can state no objection to approval of your petition.

 

  • You do not have to get an advisory opinion if a peer group or labor origination does not exist in your field.

 

4. What Documents are Needed to Apply for an Artist Visa?

 

The documents you submit with your O1B visa are extremely important. The specific documents you submit will depend on your unique qualifications.

 

That said, here is a basic list of the documents you should expect to include:

 

  • Resume/CV

 

  • Copy of Passport

 

  • Letters of recommendation from experts in your field

 

  • Evidence of your extraordinary ability (awards, prizes, publications, etc.)

 

  • Advisory opinion from peer group

 

  • Document explaining the terms of your employment in the United States

 

5. What is the Process of Getting an Artist Visa?

 

Here’s a quick outline of the process of getting an artist visa:

 

Step 1. Hire an Immigration Lawyer

 

  • Your immigration lawyer will walk you through the entire process of getting an artist visa.

 

  • Your immigration lawyer will also identify all of the documents you will need to provide for them to include in your petition.

 

Step 2. Gather Necessary Documents

 

  • During this step, you will be assembling the necessary documents to file your your petition for an artist visa.

 

Step 3. File Form I-129

 

  • The Form I-129 is the form your immigration lawyer will file to apply for your artist visa.

 

  • Your immigration lawyer will also fill-out the O-Supplement that goes along with the I-129 for an O1B visa.

 

  • Along with the I-129, your immigration lawyer will include all supporting documents for your petition (advisory opinion, letters of recommendation, etc.).

 

  • Once the I-129 is approved, you are eligible to apply for an artist visa.

 

  • If you are doing a Change of Status, the process is over once your I-129 is approved.

 

Step 4. Apply for Artist Visa

 

  • If you are not doing a change of status, then you will likely be applying for an O1B visa.

 

  • Once your I-129 is approved, you are eligible to apply for the actual O1B visa.

 

  • Your immigration lawyer will can submit the necessary paperwork and assist you with scheduling an appointment at the Consulate of your home country.

 

6. Conclusion

 

As an artist, you may be eligible for an O1B visa (“artist visa”) to live and work in the USA.

 

In order to get an artist visa, you need to satisfy 5 basic requirements:

 

  • You must have an extraordinary ability in the arts

 

  • You must be coming to the United States to work in your field of extraordinary ability

 

  • Your employment in the United States must qualify as an “event”

 

  • Your petition must be filed by a US employer, US agent, or foreign employer through a US agent.

 

  • You must get an advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.

 

If you are able to satisfy the above requirements, the O1B artist visa is an option you should consider.

 

With an artist visa, you can:

 

  • Work in the USA for extended periods of time

 

  • Work for multiple employers

 

  • Bring you spouse and unmarried children with you to the United States

 

  • Along with many other benefits

 

If you have any questions regarding any of the information discussed, please email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m a US immigration lawyer and I would be happy to answer your questions.

 

Ashoori Law is an immigration law firm focused on helping professionals get visas to the United States.

 

Got a Question? Lets talk.

 

Resources:

 

 

 

  • Business Immigration: Law & Practice, 2nd. Ed. - Chapter 12 O Visas and Status

 

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