The O-1B Visa Program for Artists

This program allows for artists with distinguished national or international acclaim to perform for pay in the United States.

The petition generally consists of three steps.

  1. Consultation with an appropriate labor organization such as the American Federation of Musicians.
  2. O-1B Petition filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
  3. Nonimmigrant visa processing at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Consultation or Advisory Opinion:

The consultation or advisory opinion consists of obtaining a statement from the appropriate labor organization.   This generally requires that the appropriate organization be sent a copy of the petition with their fee.     Usually a letter stating that the artist’s work in the U.S. will not affect the U.S. labor force will be issued and then included with the O-1B Petition to USCIS.  

O-1B Petition for USCIS:

To qualify for O-1B an artist must demonstrate that they have sustained national or international acclaim.  O-1 Alien of extraordinary ability in the arts. To qualify as an artist of extraordinary ability in the field of arts, the artist must be recognized as being prominent in his or her field of endeavor as demonstrated by the following:

Evidence that the artist has been nominated for, or has been the recipient of, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director's Guild Award; OR

At least three of the following forms of documentation:

  1. Evidence that the artist has 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;
  2. Evidence that the artist has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  3. Evidence that the artist has 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;
  4. Evidence that the artist has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, 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;
  5. Evidence that the artist has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author's authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien's achievements; or
  6. Evidence that the artist has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

U.S. Petitioners and Agents:

A foreign artist may not file their own a petition for O-1B status to work in the U.S.   The petition must be filed by a U.S. Company acting as an employer, or U.S. Company or Person acting as an agent on behalf of the O-1B artists.   A contract between the U.S. Petitioner and the Artist must be provided along with an itinerary listing the dates, addresses and contact information for venues of performance in the U.S.

Length of time of time allowed for O-1B:

An O-1B Petition may be filed for as long as it is necessary to accomplish the event or activity.  An itinerary must be provided and contracts or evidence of events or activities on the itinerary must be provided.

Essential Support Personnel:

Essential Support Personnel can be given O-2 status.   A separate petition must be filed for such personal and additional filing fees must be paid.  A statement that each support personnel has been with the artist for at least one year must also be provided.

Visa Processing:

The artist or performer must apply for an O-1B Visa at an Embassy or Consulate abroad.  Generally, they must apply at the U.S. Embassy in the country where they have nationality or where they have legal residence.   This involves filing a DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application on line, paying the required filing fees and attending an O-1B Visa interview after the approval of the O-1B Visa Petition by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S.



**This is only an outline of the issues involved in the O-1B nonimmigrant visa category.  This document does not address all of the issues or documents involved in a complex employment immigration case. Please feel free make an appointment to discuss further with us the options available to you in your specific case.