So you want to come to the United States to work in the entertainment industry? Congratulations! The first step is to obtain an O-1 visa. Here are the top 10 tips you need to know in order to increase your chances of being approved for an O-1 visa.
Your employer or agent must be able to demonstrate a “record of extreme achievement” in the field in which you will be working. Make sure they are prepared to provide evidence of your skills and experience.
Even though the O-1 is technically an employment-based visa, your sponsor does not necessarily have to be your employer. Your sponsor can also be an O-1 visa agent, which is defined as the following:
- Your actual employer
- Someone who professionally represents you and your employer
- Someone who can act on behalf of your employer
Because of the use of agents, your employer does not need to be from the U.S. However, the agent must be a U.S. agent in order to be able to petition for a foreign beneficiary.
The more you know about the United States entertainment industry and your role in it, the more prepared you will be for your visa interview. Be ready to talk about your experience, training, and awards. Research entertainers and influencers within your niche, and see how you can stand out in unique ways. Also be prepared to establish how your talented difference is extraordinary in the United States.
Letter of Recommendation
A letter from a well-respected figure in the entertainment industry can go a long way in proving your credentials. Make sure it is tailored specifically to you and your work in the industry. The letters of recommendation should explain the expert’s accomplishments, it should state how the writer learned about your achievements and should be able to explain why you as the applicant have extraordinary abilities in your field of endeavor. The letter should give a clear view of the O-1 criteria you meet.
This includes a copy of your resume, photos, contracts, letters of recommendation, and anything else that will help prove your credentials as an artist or entertainer. Also gather paper that has your name mentioned like scripts or show notes, even if the items gathered are in the public domain. It’s always best practice to bring everything you can think of rather than only bringing what you think presents you in the best way possible. You might not know what could be useful evidence to prove you are extraordinary.
The O-1 visa process can take up to six months, so it’s important to start early. Make sure you have all your paperwork in order before you submit your application. Because this visa process is quicker than other visas you should always hire an attorney before the application not during. Doing so we’ll save you from small mistakes that cant be fixed in a timely manner. Typically when mistake are made they can lead to months of fixing which is too long and can lead to denials because of the given time frame.
The consular officer will ask you questions about your work in the entertainment industry and why you want to come to the United States. Be honest, concise, and professional in your answers. When hiring an attorney ask them to give you a mock interview. This mock interview would give you a feel for the real one with an immigration officer. During the mock interview ask your attorney to provide feedback on what questions do you seem the least confident about. Identifying the less confident answers can allow you and your attorney to provide more provable answers that you we’re able to think of in the moment.
You will need to show that you have enough money to be financially stable during the time you’re in the United States working on projects or performances that are scheduled. Be prepared to provide documentation of your finances, such as bank statements or sponsorship letters. Also bring any paperwork that shows you have affiliates partnered with you if applicable.
Prove Temporary Stay
The consular officer will want reassurance that you have ties such as a job, family, or property to your home country and that you have no intention of staying in the United States permanently. But even though you have to prove that you’ll be staying temporarily, once approved you can apply for a green card to live in the United States permanently. During the time your here, you can consulate with your attorney to see what green card best fits you. Typically, people with O-1 visas will transfer to EB-1 green card visa.
For example, an O-1 beneficiary who’s applying for EB-1 could join an association and provide a letter explaining why the beneficiary was asked to joined the association and information to who else in the association and what they look for when asking a member to join they’re association. This proof of association would be useful when applying for a green card.
Double Check Evidence
It’s very important that you answer all questions truthfully and accurately on both your application and during your interview. Any misrepresentation no matter how small could result in denial of your visa. For example a common evidence forgotten to provide is an internal company award. These internal awards are important evidence if the award given is from a large company with thousands of employees.
Contact An Attorney
An immigration attorney can help ensure that you have all the necessary documentation and can represent you if there are any issues with your application or interview. They will also identify any missing evidence and run through with you mock interview to test the strength in your interview capabilities.
The O-1 visa is a great option for those looking to work in the United States entertainment industry on a temporary basis. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of being approved for an O-1 visa so that you can pursue your dream career.