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O-1 Visas for Actors and Artists

The O-1 visa is one of the most widely misunderstood immigration programs offered by the United States State Department and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The first aspect to understand about the O-1 visa program is that it falls under the category of non-immigrant visas, which means that it is a visa for foreign applicants who have a specific work purpose to fulfill in the U.S.

Actors, musicians and artists are the professions most commonly associated with the O-1 visa; in reality, this program extends to foreigners who have diverse extraordinary abilities. They are classified as follows:

O-1A applicants

have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the fields of athletics, business, education or science. Examples include professional athletes signed by American teams, business leaders who arrive for a conference or a temporary assignment, university lecturers and researchers.

O-1B applicants

are actors and artists who work in the entertainment industry, which may include film, music, radio, television, theater and others.

O-2 applicants

are individuals whose work is intrinsic to the individuals who demonstrate extraordinary abilities and is also expected to work in the U.S. for a temporary assignment. An example would be the equipment manager of a baseball team that is expected to participate in a game series in the U.S.

O-3 applicants

are the spouses and children of those who obtain O-1 and O-2 visas. To learn more about various types of family immigration, click

In the case of large organizations such as national ballets, international recording artists and professional sports teams, legal teams are often retained to handle all affairs related to O-1, O-2 and O-3 visas. These teams often perform the minimum work required to get the visas, and for this reason actors and artists often travel without their families and require assistance to be contracted and provided by the American employer.

Actors and artists who secure a temporary job contract in the U.S. do not have to rely on their agents to obtain their visas. Those who retain American legal firms, such as Kazmi and Sakata Immigration law, on their own tend to do better and even explore the possibility of adjustment of status from non-immigrant to conditional resident. There are tax and immigration issues to consider and the best advice comes from attorneys who solely represent the interest of their clients and not their agents. If you need assistance with your 0-1 visa or are seeking adjustment of status, call 858-874-0711 for a free consultation from a professional immigration lawyer.

October 2023