As also discussed in our H-1B articles section, models are able to enter the U.S. for work on either an O-1 or an H-1B visa. In this article we focus on the O-1 visa route.
The O visa option for models is somewhat more complex then the H-1B process. One of the advantages of the O visa however is that it can be filed throughout the year as there are no visa quotas as there are with H-1B visas. The O visa for models actually involves the preparation of a petition under the O-1A visa category, whereby it must be shown that the model has extraordinary ability in business. There is am O visa category for arts, however a leading case on the subject, Matter of Ford Models, Inc., provides that modeling is more suitable under an extraordinary ability in Business approach.
In order to satisfy the O visa requirements, the model must evidence a list of upcoming projects or events, must have a petitioning company or agent (note that the term agent has a specific definition that should be discussed with an attorney or researched further), and must evidence his/her extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability can be shown by receipt of a major internationally recognized award. For most models such an award cannot be shown however another option does exist. Extraordinary ability can also be shown by satisfying as many, at least three are required, of the following types of evidence:
1. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards;
2. Membership in organizations that require outstanding achievement;
3. Published materials about the model;
4. Reviews of the models ability from industry persons;
5. That the model has been employed in an essential capacity at an organization with distinguished reputation;
6. That the model has commanded or will command a salary above that which others in the industry receive.
Further, as will all O visa applications, as can be read about in more detail in our other O visa articles, an itinerary of upcoming events or evidence of employment would also be necessary to satisfy the requirements.