Catering to the Entertainment Industry
USE THE LAW FIRM THAT THE STARS USE
The Law Offices of Eli M. Kantor is located right in the heart of the world famous Golden Triangle in Beverly Hills, right across the street from WME. It has has helped many world-class studios, such as Legendary Pictures, Asylum Entertainment, Starz, Tyler Perry Studios, Film Roman, Miramax, and world class entertainers, including actors, directors, cinematographers, film editors, colorists, 3D producers, composers, dj’s, animators, set designers, make-up artists, stuntmen, models, social media influencers, authors and screen writers resolve all of their immigration matters by obtaining
O-1 Visas and EB-1 Green Cards.
Our partial client list includes: Academy Award winning actress, Juliette Binoche (Godzilla), Academy Award Nominated and Golden Globe Winning Actress Sally Hawkins (Godzilla), BAFTA Award nominated actress Noomi Rapace, (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Academy Award Winning Director, Juan Campanella, (El Secreto de Sus Ojos), BAFTA Award Nominated Director, Gareth Edwards, (Godzilla, Monsters), BAFTA Award Winning Director, Duncan Jones (Warcraft), BAFTA Award Nominated Actor Aaron Taylor Johnson (Godzilla) (James Bond), BAFTA Award nominated actor, Tom Hiddleston, (Thor), BAFTA Award nominated actor, Toby Kebbell, (The Fantastic Four), Hollywood Film Award winning actress, Tian Jian, (The Great Wall), AFI Award Winning Production Designer, Owen Paterson (The Matrix), Emmy Award Winning Set Designer, Shirley Injet, Prop Designer/
Remote Control Model Airplane Builder, Ramy RC (Six Tripple Eight) (The X-Files),Academy Award Nominated Cinematographer, Seamus McGarvey (Atonement),Emmy Award Winning Film
Editor and Colorist, Caryl Dean (State of Play and El Capo), Assistant Director, Luc Etienne (Godzilla), Emmy Award Nominated Make up Artist Victoria Down (Godzilla), Genie Award Winning Sound Mixer Michael McGee (Godzilla), Genie Award Nominated Boom Operator Charles O’Shea (Godzilla), Gemini Award Nominated Make up Artist Christopher Pinhey (Godzilla), ADG
Excellence in Production Design Award Nominated Supervising Art Director Grant Van Der Slagt (Godzilla), Saturn Award Nominated SPFX Coordinator Joel Whist (Godzilla), Satellite Award Nominated Set Decorator Elizabeth Wilcox (Godzilla), Actor, Chacko Vadaketh (2012: Ice Age), Line Producer Erin Smith (Taken), Cinematographer, Javier Aguirre Sarobe
(Twilight),Cinematographer, Serge Ladouceur (Supernatural)Cinematographer, Derick Underschultz (In Treatment),AFI Award Winning Visual Effects Supervisor, Christopher Godfrey, (Australia),3D Producer, Marcus Alexander (Godzilla),Hair and Make-up Artist, Tara Smith(Sex and the City,” the film”)Writer, Fiona Horne, New York Times Best Selling Author of Journey to Rainbow Island, Christie Hsiao,Literary Editor, Deborah Kaufman, Taurus Award Winning Stuntwoman, Zoe Bell (Kill Bill),Stuntwoman, Samantha Thjia (Suckerpunch, Man of Steel,
300), Academy Award WinningComposer, Alexandre Desplat (Godzilla, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Monuments Men, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo), Score and Music Producer, Dominique LeMonnier (Zero Dark Thirty, Fantastic Mr. Fox), Film Composer for Hallmark Movies, Stacey Hersh, Radio and Television Host,Jay Menon, Animator, Francisco Ruiz (Pacific Rim)Award
winning actress, Nathalie Soderqvist (Miss Julie). Award winning DJ, Sacha Robotti, Award winning model, Kristina Levina , (German Playmate of the Year). Mr. Kantor is known for representing numerous foreign actors, actresses, producers, directors, cinematographers, stuntmen, make-up artists, composers, set-designers, models, social media influencers and other industry professionals, primarily by obtaining O-1 and O-2 visas and EB-1 Green Cards for these individuals.
We have established excellent working relationships with the AMPTP, SAG-AFTRA, DGA, AFM, IATSE the major agencies and the studios, so that we can obtain ”
No Objection” letters promptly. When time is an issue – we can deliver prompt results from Immigration. We get the job done. In emergency situations, we were able to obtain an O-1 visa within a week.
Award Winning Actress Nathalie Soderqvist
Hallmark Music Composer Stacey Hersh
Award Winning DJ Sacha Robotti
Award Winning Stuntwoman Zoe Bell
Award Winning Actor Toby Kebbell
Award Winning Director Anthony Sabet
Even if you haven’t won a major award such as an Oscar or an Emmy, and are not yet a star, we still may be able to obtain an O-1 Visa or EB-1 Green Card for you. Use the law firm that the stars rely on – Go with the leading authority in the field of O-1 visas – Go with ELI KANTOR.
CALL NOW TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY – (310) 274-8216
Since the Entertainment Industry is Global, We have represented individuals from all over the world including:
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
When Legendary Entertainment was filming Godzilla, it started production on Vancouver Island in Canada. When it shifted production to Hawaii, we had to obtain42 visas for the cast and crew, within a very short period of time. The union, IATSE, objected that Legendary should hire local American workers in Hawaii for the “below the line employees.” However, we were able to overcome their objections by arguing that we needed to ensure “continuity of production” by having the same crew that was familiar with the director’s style, and also because we had already obtained security clearances from the Air Force to enter the Air Force base to film. The result – Immigration issued all 42 visas.
A successful actor from Singapore, Chako Vadaketh, had previously received an O-1 visa, yet when we applied for a Green Card for him as an EB-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability, we received an extensive Request for Evidence “RFE” questioning his abilities. Nevertheless, we were able to overcome the RFE by establishing that an award ceremony in Malaysia where he was a “presenter” was equivalent to the Academy Awards in Malaysia.
When Marcus Alexander, a successful 3-D producer, who had previously obtained an O-1 Visa, wanted to obtain a green card, we filed an EB-1 petition for him, as an alien of extraordinary ability. However, Immigration sent us a lengthy Request For Evidence “RFE”. We were able to overcome it, by explaining to Immigration that the field of 3-Dimensional movies was relatively new and, therefore, the Academy Awards did not yet have a special category for it. We also submitted additional evidence of his writing about 3-D motion pictures, and he received his green card. Now, he is not tied to any one project or studio, and is able to work anywhere.
Kristina Levina, a former German Playmate of the Year, was not your typical fashion model, and the H-1B quota for models was already exhausted, so we decided to push the envelope and were able to obtain an O-1B Visa for her as an alien of extraordinary ability based upon her large Youtube following as asocial media influencer and her representation of underwear lines as a brand ambassador. Immigration initially issued us a “RFE” Request for Evidence, claiming that her itinerary for the next 3 years was not detailed enough. We pushed back by arguing that in modeling the dates, times and locations of photo shoots are not set until shortly before the actual photo shoot. Immigration accepted our argument and granted her an O-1B visa, and the US Consulate in Munich, Germany recently issued her O-1 Visa.
When Tyler Perry was making his new feature length film, Six Triple Eight, about the black female air corp that delivered the mail to the troops in France, during WWII, he didn’t want to use CGI for the aircraft scenes. Rather, he wanted to use authentic model replicas of the aircraft. He found the top remote control aircraft builder in the world in Germany, Rami RC. Tyler wanted to bring him to the US for his new film, but he needed a working visa to do so. However, there is no category for remote control model airplane builder. We analyzed the situation, and devised a strategy to bring him to the US on an O-1B visa as aprop designer. We focused on his achievements as asocial media influencer, based upon his millions of views on YouTube. The US Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany recently approved his application.
We were able to obtain an EB-1 Green Card for a German DJ, Sasha Robati. When we initially applied, we received a massive RFE, Request for Evidence from Immigration. We pushed back, and educated Immigration about DJ’s, successfully arguing that the category of DJ could be the basis for an EB-1 green card.
PERSONALIZED LEGAL STRATEGIES
We win cases because we believe that every client and case is unique. We think outside the box. We have persuaded immigration to accept non-traditional job categories for O-1B visas such as social media influencers, DJ’s, 3D producers and prop designers. If we don’t believe that you will qualify as an O-1 alien ofextraordinary ability, then we won’t accept your case. We select your best references and then assist you in drafting a custom tailored letter of recommendation highlighting your strengths, demonstrating why you are world class and what you did to make the film successful. We don’t use templates. Each letter is customized to highlight your strengths. We analyze your background and select your strongest arguments as to why you qualify as an alien who is world class and has extraordinary ability
PERSONAL WORKING RELATIONSHIP
Your case will not get “lost in the shuffle”. You will have a personalized working relationship with our attorneys to assist you in developing your case, to maximize your potential to be approved. You will collaborate with someone who cares about you and your case
WE WIN CASES
We have a high rate of success. Because of our many years of experience, we know the ins and outs, what works and what doesn’t in this complex and fast changing area of the law. We provide a unique approach to each case where we custom tailor your case. We help you navigate through the complex maze of immigration rules and regulations to achieve success. Don’t risk your future, go with the experts and get results.
I am the General Counsel of an entertainment company, who was referred to Eli by one of the outside law firms I retain. The visa was for one of our key overseas employees who we needed to bring to the US. Eli promptly answered all of my questions and diligently followed up with Immigration and the State Department. Eli was able to obtain a work visa for our employee in a very complex case. Eli is a true professional who knows Immigration Law inside and out. I highly recommend him.
Posted by Annie 11/2016
BEST LAWYER IN TOWN
Eli Kantor was by far the best lawyer I know. I am an executive at an entertainment production company. After researching, interviewing and meeting with several lawyers to assist me apply for my Green card, Eli Kantor stood out to me. He’s responsible, very detailed and organized, prepared my case with care and recommendations. I got the Green card approved in no time. Thanks to Eli, I highly recommend anyone looking for immigration visa to go to him.
Posted by Christie 11/27/2017
I had a very tricky past and in the most professional way Mr Kantor took it all in stride and dealt with it accordingly. He’s fantastic.
Posted by Tobias 11/26/2017
ELI AND HIS STAFF HAVE BEEN AMAZING
Eli and his staff have been amazingly efficient in getting my O1 visa. 2 weeks after filing papers I had my work permit on my desk. Thank you so much.
Posted by Assistant Director for Godzilla, Luc Etienne, 03/2013
O-1 VISA FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
The O-1 visa is for the individual who has 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.
O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1
O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s
The level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
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.
To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
BENEFITS OF AN O-1 VISA
* Unlike the H-1B visa that has an annual quota of 65,000 plus 20,000 visas for masters degree and PhD holders, there is no annual quota.
* There is no minimum education requirement.
* They can be issued relatively quickly
* O-1 visas can be issued for up to 3 years and can be extended indefinitely as long as you have projects.
* O-1 visas allow you to work for more than one employer if your agent obtained it for you.
* You can bring your team/support personnel with you on an O-2 visa.
* You can bring your spouse and children under 21 with you on an O-3 visa. They can also attend school.
* You do not have to maintain a foreign residence and show intent to return to your home country while applying for the visa.
* You can freely travel in and out of the U.S. provided you have a valid visa.
O-1B VISA: EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY (ARTS, MOTION PICTURE, OR TELEVISION)
The O-1 category also applies to aliens who are coming temporarily and have extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer should file the I-129 petition with:
- A written advisory opinion, describing the alien’s ability as follows:
- If the petition is based on the alien’s extraordinary ability in the arts, the consultation must be from a peer group (including labor organizations) in the alien’s field of endeavor, or a person or persons designated by the group with expertise in the alien’s area of ability.
- If the petition is based on the alien’s extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television industry, separate consultations are required from a labor and a management organization with expertise in the alien’s field of endeavor.
- A copy of any written contract between the employer and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed;
- Evidence the alien has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least three of the following:
- Performed or 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;
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
- Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien’s achievements;
- A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence; or
Note: If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the alien’s eligibility.
Merely providing three sources of evidence does not automatically establish that the foreign national possess extraordinary ability. USCIS considers the quality of the evidence provided and not just whether the minimum amount of documentation has been submitted. Documentation evidence for an O-1B petition may be in a form of:
Affidavits, contracts, awards, or other documentation reflecting the nature of the foreign national’s achievement certified by an offer or responsible person employed where the work was performed.
Affidavits written by present and/or former employers or recognized experts attesting to the reputation and extraordinary ability of the foreign national.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS AND BLOGGERS
Social media influencers and bloggers with large online followings on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, You Tube and Facebook can qualify for an O-1 visa or EB-1 green card. Youtube and social media have now come into prominence because of their large number of views. The O-1 regulations were written long before the social media boom. Immigration law has not yet caught up with it, but Immigration policies are constantly evolving with the ever expanding job titles of the 21st century. We have been successful in persuading Immigration to grant O-1B visas to social media influencers, brand ambassadors, YouTubers and bloggers.
Social Media influencer marketing has revolutionized the way companies do business. That is because they have recognized that social media influencers can engage and connect with their large audiences in a way that traditional media cannot, because they are capable of persuading their followers to act based upon their recommendations. Social Media Influencers build relationships with their audience by sharing their opinions and personal stories, thereby establishing a sense of connection and credibility. Therefore, Industry has determined that social media marketing is more cost effective, since they receive a greater return on their investment than traditional media.
For those seeking success in today’s modeling landscape, social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, You Tube and Only Fans provide fertile ground for a new type of”model” to emerge – the “Social Media Influencer.” These are not the typical type of “fashion models” who walked on the “cat walk” in the past, but rather a new type of model, who can connect on a personal level with their fans.
Such influencers have been able to amass millions of followers and achieve an extraordinary level of success by signing lucrative brand deals as brand ambassadors, partners and collaborators with some of the world’s largest companies.
Social Media Influencers can fit the “extraordinary ability” requirement through being “Brand Ambassadors” and/or through high views or likes and high number of followers. We can argue that the social media influencer’s contribution is valuable and essential to the promotion of the brand, and persuade Immigration to grant them an O-1B Visa.
REQUIRED DOCUMENTS TO QUALIFY FOR AN O-1B VISA AS A SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER
- Documents concerning the nature of your Brand Ambassadorships.
- Documents showing commercial success, including posts, blogs or videos with your highest view, likes, share, and downloads.
- Evidence of press articles you’ve received demonstrating your achievements, including red carpet photos, editorial profiles, review, interviews, television appearances and press releases in major print or online publications.
- Evidence that your press is in “Major Media” by the circulation or number of views.
- Pay statements evidencing your high rate of pay. If you are a Brand Ambassador, you should prepare pay stubs that prove that you have earned a high salary. If you are a YouTuber who is paid monthly by You Tube, you should prepare pay stubs that show the amount you are paid by the platform monthly.
- Evidence that your salary is high compared to others in the field for the same type of work.
- A list of fellow Social Media Influencers, managers, critics, industry executive or representatives from the brands that you have worked for as a Brand Ambassador, who can write letters on your behalf describing your past work and how essential it has been to the success of the Brand.
- Evidence of any awards you have received from your work as a social media influencer, such as a YouTube Golden Button Award.
- Deal Memos or contracts that discuss work that you have done in the past or will do in the future with as much detail as possible.
- A detailed 3 year itinerary showing the dates, locations and nature of the events that you will be performing at such as photo shoots, advertising campaigns etc. or in the alternative a list of the brands that you will be working for and a summary of the events if they have no yet been scheduled.
Standard for Professional Publications
In Russell v. I.N.S., No. 98 C 6132, 2001 WL 11055 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2001) the District Court rejected INS’s position that articles from Chicago newspapers did not demonstrate that Russell had “major media” attention because the newspapers were not national media. The Court noted: “Nowhere in the relevant language of the INS regulation is there a requirement that the submitted media publications be from news outlets throughout the country”.
Thus, USCIS should focus on the circulation of the publication, of the editorial influence of the media source, rather than solely whether the publication is national in scope.
Further, there is no requirement that published material be primarily about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work. In Muni v. I.N.S., 891 F. Supp. 440 (N.D. Ill. 1995), the Court held that “published material about [Muni] in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to [his] work in the field for which classification is sought” was sufficient to satisfy this criterion. The Court noted that the “articles do not establish that Muni is one of the stars… but that is not the applicable standard”.
Instead, the court found that “the articles Muni submitted, which appeared in various newspapers and hockey magazines, clearly fit the requirement”.
A similar holding was set in Racine v. INS, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4336 at 17, 1995 WL 153319 at 6 (N.D. III 1995). There, the Court found that “INS was not following its own regulations when it held that there are no articles which state that Racine is ‘one of the best in the field’”. Like the Court in Muni, Racine held that “articles [that] … demonstrate his work within his field” were sufficient to meet this criterion.
Importance of Expert Letters
While expert letters by themselves are not conclusive evidence of extraordinary ability, such letters often summarize and explain the documentary evidence submitted. Unchallenged testimony cannot be rejected outright. Banks v. Gonzales, 453 F.3d 449, 453-54 (7th Cir. 2006). The determination of the credibility of documentary evidence should be the same as the determination of the credibility of testimony and therefore, an adverse decision must be based on “specific, cogent reasons that bear legitimate nexus to the finding” Zahedi v. INS, 222 F.3d 1157, 1165 (9th Cir. 2000).
In other words, an expert letter may not be dismissed without a specific, cogent reason for finding that it is not credible evidence in support of the petition.
USCIS has a long history of accepting expert letter as evidence. A number of non-precedent AAO decisions confirm this trend. See, e.g., Matter of [name not provided], 1997 WL 33171069 (AAO 1997); Matter of [name not provided], AAU LIN 95 08951447, 1997 WL 33171273 (AAO 1997).
In addition, the Court in Buletini v. I.N.S., 860 F. Supp. 1222 (E.D. Mich. 1994) held that expert statements respecting the petitioner’s contributions must be fully considered, even if the expert opinions came from people who knew or had worked with the beneficiary.
Similarly, the Court in Muni v. I.N.S. found that dismissal of expert letters without full consideration was “clear evidence that [the INS] did not adequately evaluate the facts before it. See also Racine v. INS, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4336, 1995 WL 153319 (N.D. III Feb. 16, 1995).
Failure to consider expert testimony and/or affidavits is a violation of Due Process. Tun v. Gonzales, 485 F.3d 1014 (8th Cir. 2007); Rodriguez Galicia v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 529, 538-40 (7th Cir. 2005); Lopez-Umanzor v. Gonzales, 405 F.3d 1049, 1056-58 (9th Cir. 2005); McDonalds v. Gonzales, 400 F.3d 684, 687-88 (9th Cir. 2005).
A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.
When a consultation includes a watermark or other distinctive marks to confirm the authenticity of the document, petitioners should submit to USCIS the version containing the watermark or other distinctive marks. Copies of documents that do not contain the appropriate watermark or other distinctive marks may raise doubts about the authenticity of the document and may result in processing delays. For example, USCIS may request that the petitioner submit the original version of the document. To avoid processing delays, petitioners should ensure that they submit the appropriate version and that any associated watermark or other distinctive marks are legible.
Exceptions to the Consultation Requirement
If the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, does not exist, then the decision will be based on the evidence of record.
A consultation may be waived for an alien with extraordinary ability in the field of arts if the alien seeks readmission to perform similar services within 2 years of the date of a previous consultation. Petitioners should submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation with the petition.
Contract Between Petitioner and Beneficiary
A copy of any written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed.
NOTE: USCIS will accept an oral contract, as evidenced by the summation of the elements of the oral agreement. Such evidence may include but is not limited to: emails between the contractual parties, a written summation of the terms of the agreement, or any other evidence which demonstrates that an oral agreement was created.
The summary of the terms of the oral agreement must contain:
what was offered by the employer
what was accepted by the employee
The summary does not have to be signed by both parties to establish the oral agreement. However, it must document the terms of the employment offered and that the beneficiary has agreed to the offer.
An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable (see the memorandum “Clarifying Guidance on “O” petition Validity Period” (PDF, 57 KB)). The petitioner must establish that there are events or activities in the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary ability for the validity period requested, e.g. an itinerary for a tour or a series of events.
A U.S. Agent may be the actual employer of the beneficiary, the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary, or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.
Agent for Multiple Employers
Please note that a petitioner who will be filing as an agent for multiple employers must establish that it is duly authorized to act as an agent for the other employers. The required conditions can be found on the “Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for the O and P Visa Classifications” (PDF, 890 KB) page.
Additionally, agents filing I-129 petitions for multiple employers must include with the petition:
Supporting documentation including a complete itinerary of the event or events which specifies the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of the establishments, venues, or locations where the services will be performed
Contracts between the actual employers and the beneficiary; and An explanation of the terms and conditions of the employment with required documentation.
Once the visa petition is approved by USCIS, the beneficiary can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa. Department of State (DOS) establishes visa application processing and issuance fees. For more information on visa application processing and issuance fees, see the “Department of State Consular Affairs webpage: www.travel.state.gov”.
Agent Performing the Function of an Employer
An I-129 filed by an agent performing the function of an employer must include:
The contractual agreement between the agent and the beneficiary which specifies the wage offered and the other terms and conditions of employment. This can be a summary of the terms of the oral agreement or a written contract. A contract is not required between the beneficiary and the entities that will ultimately use the beneficiary’s services.
A petition which requires the alien to work in more than one location must include an itinerary with the dates and locations of work. There are no exceptions to the itinerary requirement when the petition is filed by an agent performing the function of an employer. However, USCIS does give some flexibility to how detailed the itinerary must be and does take into account industry standards when determining whether the itinerary requirement has been met. As such, the itinerary should at a minimum indicate what type of work the beneficiary will be engaged, where, and when this work will take place.
Please note that USCIS relies on the contractual agreement that must be provided with the petition to determine whether the agent is functioning as the employer of the beneficiary. The contractual agreement should establish the type of working relationship between the agent and beneficiary and should clearly lay out how the beneficiary will be paid. In totality, if the terms and conditions of employment show a level of control over the beneficiary’s work being relinquished to the agent, then the agent may establish that it is performing the function of an employer. This determination will be on a case by case basis and will be based on the contractual agreement, whether written or oral.
The petition must be submitted with evidence regarding the wage offered. However, the regulations do not contain a prevailing wage requirement. Furthermore, no particular wage structure is required. A detailed description of the wage offered or fee structure and that the wage offered/ fee structure was agreed upon may satisfy this requirement.
Agent for Foreign Employers
Agents filing I-129 petitions for foreign employers must submit the minimum general documentary evidence as required for all O-1 petitions which include:
- Copies of any written contracts between the foreign employer and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed
- An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities
- A written advisory opinion from the appropriate consulting entity or entities.
The regulations do not require any additional documentary requirements for an agent filing on behalf of a foreign employer, however, it is the foreign employer who is responsible for complying with all applicable employer sanctions provisions.
O-2 VISA: SUPPORT PERSONNEL
The O-2 category applies to aliens accompanying an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance. This person would be acting as an essential and integral part of the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 artist or athlete because he or she performs support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1.
Petition Document Requirements
The petition must be filed by a U.S. employer in conjunction with the filing of the O-1 alien petition and must be filed with:
- A written advisory opinion.
- If the O-2 petition is for an alien accompanying an O-1 alien of extraordinary ability in the arts, the opinion must be from a labor organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
- If the O-2 petition is for an alien accompanying an O-1 alien of extraordinary achievement in the field of motion picture or television, the opinion must be from a labor organization and a management organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
- The requirements for an advisory opinion letter from the AMPTP may be obtained at
- Evidence of the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 alien with the O-1 alien, and that the alien has substantial experience utilizing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1. In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence shall establish that significant production has taken place outside the U.S., and will take place inside the U.S. and that the continuing participation of the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production.
O-3 VISA: DEPENDENTS
Spouses and minor children (dependents) of O-1’s are admitted under O-3 status with the same restrictions as the principal. They may not work in the U.S. under this classification.
Family of O-1 and O-2 Visa Holders
Any accompanying or following to join spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 nonimmigrant. They may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in full or part time study on an O-3 visa.
P-1B VISA: MEMBER OF AN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
For multiple DJ’s in a musical group or other bands, rather than utilizing the more difficult O-1 Visa, the P-1B visa may be the ideal alternative.
The P-1B classification applies to you if you are coming to the United States temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time.
- At least 75 percent of the members of your group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year.
- Your entertainment group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.
- The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is essential.
Note: Individual entertainers not performing as part of a group are not eligible for this visa classification.
Special Provisions for Certain Entertainment Groups:
- Alien circus performers and essential circus personnel are exempt the one year requirement and the internationally recognized requirement. The alien or aliens must be coming to join a nationally recognized circus.
- Certain nationally known entertainment groups may have the internationally recognized requirement waived if they can establish they have been recognized nationally as outstanding in its discipline for a sustained amount of time in consideration of special circumstances.
Your U.S. employer must submit:
- Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker accompanied by the appropriate fee and supporting documentation. Please note that if you are a petitioner who will be filing as an agent for multiple employers you must establish that you are duly authorized to act as an agent. The required conditions can be found at the link to the right (see the memorandum “Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for the O and P Visa Classifications”.
- A consultation from an appropriate labor organization regarding the nature of the work to be done or a statement proving that the group has been established and performing regularly for a period of at least one year (If no appropriate labor organization exists, this requirement is excused)
Form I-129 must include the following documents:
- Written consultation from an appropriate labor organization
- Itinerary with the dates and locations of the performances
- A copy of the contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or summary of terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed
- Evidence that your group has been established and performing regularly for at least one year
- Statement from the petitioner listing each member of the group and the exact dates for which each member has been employed on a regular basis by the group
- Evidence that your group is internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time as demonstrated by evidence of your group’s receipt of, or nomination for, significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field, or evidence of at least three of the following:
- Your group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements
- Your group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material
- Your group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials
- Your group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
- Your group has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field
- Your group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
O1 Processing Time
On average, the O1 processing time is faster than that of other visas like the H-1B visa. However, you should still allot three to four months for the application to process. Because the I-129 petition’s processing time is dependent on the service center that is responsible for processing it, determining the exact amount of time to expect can be difficult.
If you are pressed for time and have a need to expedite your O1 processing time, then opting for the USCIS premium processing service may be a good option. This feature, for a fee of $2,500, will obligate the USCIS to process your petition in 15 calendar days or less. If it is not processed in this time, the USCIS will refund your fee.
However, many people believe that premium processing will help increase your chances of being approved or even guarantee approval. This has never been the case. Premium processing only speeds up the time it takes the USCIS to come to a decision about your petition.
O-1 Visa Sponsor
There are typically two types of O-1 visa sponsors–an agent and an employer. An employer, as you may assume, is a company or person that the applicant will be working or providing services to. An agent, on the other hand, is hired in order to represent the applicant’s skills and find them suitable work.
There are three important components a sponsor will need to provide on behalf of the applicant and they are as follows:
- Information such as name, address, tax ID number, gross income, net income, number of employees, etc.
- A signed petition request work status for the individual
- Good faith to work with them in the manner suggested.
O-1 Visa Change of Status
In some cases, an individual on O-1 visa status may seek a change of status (COS) to another non-immigrant status or even permanent residency. This is because the O-1 visa classification is considered to have “dual intent”, meaning that, unlike other work visas like TN and J-1, you are able to pursue your green card while on O-1 status. If you are in the U.S. and wish to change your status you must first meet the following criteria:
- Have not committed a crime or any other act that would cause them to be ineligible for immigrant benefits
- There cannot be any outstanding factors that would require them to leave the country prior to changing classifications
- Has to request a change of status application prior to the expiration date of the I-94
- Been admitted into the country on a non-immigrant status (like O-1
PERIOD OF STAY/EXTENSIONS OF STAY
- Initial Period of Stay
- Up to 3 years
USCIS will determine time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to 1 year. As an O nonimmigrant, the beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. The beneficiary may only engage in authorized employment during the validity period of the petition.
EXTENSION OF STAY
The petitioner must request an extension of stay to continue or complete the same event or activity by filing the following documentation with USCIS:
Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant WorkerA copy of the beneficiary’s Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record
A statement from the petitioner explaining the reasons for the extension
In order to assist USCIS in adjudication of your request for extension, the statement should describe the event or activity that was the basis for the original approval and confirm that the extension is needed in order for the beneficiary to continue or complete the same event or activity as described.
The beneficiary’s spouse and children must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and submit any supporting documents to extend their stay.
If you are an O-1 nonimmigrant in the United States and you want to change employers, then your new employer must file a Form I-129 with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions.
If the petition was filed by an agent, an amended petition must be filed with evidence relating to the new employer and a request for an extension of stay.
MATERIAL CHANGES IN THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
If there has been any material change in the terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the petitioner must file an amended petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.
Note: There are special rule for athletes. When professional athletes with O-1 nonimmigrant status are traded from one team to another, employment authorization will continue with the new team for 30 days during which time the new employer must file a new Form I-129. The simple act of filing the Form I-129, within this 30-day period, extends the employment authorization at least until the petition is adjudicated. If the new employer does not file a new Form I-129 within 30 days of the trade, the athlete loses his or her employment authorization. The athlete also loses his or her employment authorization if the new Form I-129 is denied.
If the employment of an O nonimmigrant beneficiary is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer must pay for the reasonable cost of return transportation to the O nonimmigrant’s last place of residence before entering into the United States. If an agent filed the petition for the employer, the agent and the employer are equally responsible for paying these costs.
IN PERSON IMMIGRATION INTERVIEWS FOR EB-1 GREEN CARDS
The Trump Administration has instituted a new policy that everyone who applies for a green card, even through employment, must now have a face to face in person immigration interview. On June 26, 2018 we participated in our first EB-1 immigration interview. Our client passed with flying colors. However, note that recently in our second interview, while our client also passed with flying colors, her case was continued, due to the EB-1 visa backlog. See below.The Biden Administration has continued this policy.
NEW MEDICAL FORMS
Note, Immigration has recently instituted a new version of its Medical Exam Form I-693. Be sure that when you go for your medical exam, that your doctor is using the latest edition of Form I-693. Note, Immigration has just instituted a new rule that your medical exam form must be filed within 60 days of the examination.