What is the deal with famous international entertainers and skilled athletes coming to the United States? You see it all the time. As immigration lawyers in the U.S., we see many great success stories. The most famous among them perhaps, we all know and love as the beloved bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. He would go on to become a famous actor and even the governor of California. But how do they do it? Is it still possible for renowned artists or skilled athletes to not only visit the United States but also come to stay?

It absolutely is! It has been done many times before, but it is a long and complex process. Many find the whole thing daunting, and understandably so, but do not give up. With the guidance and help of a U.S. immigration law firm like CFUIS, you can be assured that the gateway to immigration and even permanent residency may be just in sight. We would like to help get you there, but we understand that knowledge is half the battle.

What You Should Know About The O-1 Visa Program

The O-1 visa is generally reserved for those who possess “extraordinary ability” in a particular field like business, science, education, art or athletics. You may qualify for an O-1 visa for a temporary term of work as an artist, athlete, or entertainer of some kind. For someone to qualify for this visa, the agent or employer of the individual and their group must file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and supply documents and evidence that prove the individual’s extraordinary ability.

Under this visa program, only one artist, athlete, or entertainer can qualify for the O-1 visa for the term. However, an immigration lawyer in the U.S. can also help file an application for O-2 Visas for supporting members. O-2 visas may be granted to staff and other essential supporting members of the group whose skills and services are vital to their performance. Yes, that includes other group or band members. You should discuss whether your supporting team members and staff qualify for the O-2 visa with a skilled immigration attorney in the U.S. You should also know that the dependents of both O-1 and O-2 visa recipients may also qualify for an O-3 visa to stay in the country with their family for the term of the visa.

The O-1 visa petition will also require a copy of a detailed contract between the O-1 visa recipient and the employer or agent. Alternately, if the contract is verbal, you may include a written summary of the terms. You will also need to include an advisory opinion from an organization, union, or individual with expertise in the foreign applicant’s field. It is important to note that this visa will be approved for the term it takes to complete the work to be done. The visa can initially be approved for up to three years. It is, however, renewable in increments of up to a year.

As with most dependents in these various programs, O-3 visa holders are not authorized to work in the United States but can live here and engage in full-time or part-time study. An immigration lawyer in the U.S. can help you understand which category applies to you and help you file your petition.

Understanding The P-1 Visa

For participation in a group activity or a team event, like sport events with a team or musical performances, you may want to consider the P-1 visa. An athlete, for instance, would apply for P-1A classification. But how is it different than the O-1 visa?

The P-1 visa is different than the O-1 visa, specifically in that it not only applies to an individual athlete but also to any members of performance group or entertainment group. To qualify for this visa, the group itself must be “internationally recognized” for outstanding achievement in their field. Supporting staff must also be supplying services that cannot, under the circumstances, be supplied by an American worker. Of course, you will have to submit evidence that your group and its members are unique. The P-1 visa is granted for up to one year initially but is renewable in increments of up to one year to continue or complete the event, competition or performance.

If you are part of a “reciprocal exchange program” between an international organization and a sponsor organization in the United States, you may qualify for the P-2 visa. If you are part of a program that is “culturally unique,” you might decide to apply for a P-3 visa instead. For all of the above categories, the dependents of the foreign applicant which includes a spouse and unmarried children under 21 may also qualify for the P-4 visa to stay in the U.S. for up to a year.

You need to consult a good U.S. immigration law firm in the U.S. to discuss which visa category is best for you as well as to help you compile evidence. Approval and the time it will take may, of course, be partly dependent on the quality of the application filed by the employer or agent.

Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Programs for a Longer Stay

If your goal as an artist or athlete is to stay in the country on a long term and you can truly prove your uniqueness and extraordinary abilities, an immigration lawyer in U.S. may be able to help you apply for an EB-1 or EB-2 visa. These employment-based visas are similar to the above programs in that you must prove extraordinary or exceptional ability in your field. They are, however, the pathway to permanent residency.

It is important to understand the difference between the EB-1 and EB-2 categories, especially how they relate to your field. With the EB-1 classification, it is much harder to prove your “extraordinary abilities” to USCIS. There are ten different criteria and USCIS will require you to satisfy at least 3 of these criteria. You might be able to do this with the help of an experienced immigration lawyer in the U.S., and our team is ready to help.

You should also be aware, though, that there are three categories of EB-1 classification. The EB-1A applies to individuals with “extraordinary ability” in sciences, education, arts, business, or athletics. The EB-1B applies to outstanding professors and researchers and the EB-1C applies to certain multinational managers or executives. In either case, you will not have to obtain PERM labor certification in order to qualify for the visa.

If you cannot qualify for the EB-1 category, you may be able to also apply for an EB-2 immigration visa based on your exceptional abilities. This is generally available to a wider range of individuals since your abilities must still be exceptional but not quite as “extraordinary” as its sister EB-1A category. It is important to note that the EB-2 Visa based on exceptional ability is applicable to the fields of art, science, and business, but not the field of athletics. However, you might qualify for an EB-2 visa in the athletics, among other fields, through the National Interest Waiver option.

A good and reputable U.S. immigration law firm can provide you guidance and assistance in determining the best road ahead, as well as the keys to getting you there successfully.

How a U.S. Immigration Law Firm Can Help

There are many pathways of immigration into the United States that too many people remain unaware of going forward. There is so much complication and red tape that many people end up missing their chance. Others give up before they begin, but that does not always need to be the case. With the help of an immigration lawyer in the U.S., that does not have to be you. A proven U.S. immigration law firm can provide you the guidance and filing assistance you need to get your foot in the country.

Are you a prominent athlete or artist or working with one? Ready to make your debut in the country and start your new life and career in the United States? It will not be easy, but we are here to help.

Experienced immigration lawyers in the U.S., like those on our professional team, will help you navigate this complex process. We want to make it easy for you, though there is a long road ahead. We would like to begin with you on that road today. Therefore, call us for a consultation at 800-403-8117, to finally begin conquering this process.