Recently, I was listening to Alt.Latino’s interview with a wonderful Argentinian musician named Silvina Moreno. She has a fantastic voice and does some wonderful improvisation with instruments. I learned that she studied music here at Boston’s Berkelee College of Music.
It led me to this question: What immigration options are there for students of music, art, and performance art?
One option is the O-1 Nonimmigrant Visa. It is a nonimmigrant visa that allows an individual with “extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics” to come to work temporarily in the U.S.
To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary/immigrant can demonstrate that she has extraordinary ability by showing that he or she has a high level of achievement in the field, to the extent that she can be described as renowned or well-known in the field. We would look at the artist’s receipt of awards and recognitions in her home country and here in the U.S., her participation in competitions and panels and other recommendations from fellow artists. Our office can help gather the evidence and affidavits necessary to support such a petition.
Unlike EB-1 visas, O visas do require an employer petitioner. An established U.S. agent can be a petitioner and file for a beneficiary who typically uses agents to arrange short-term projects, performances, tours, exhibitions, etc. In addition, an O visa may be valid for up to 3 years and renewable in increments of one year. It is also possible to extend the O visa with a new employer or a new position with an old employer. In addition, unlike the popular H-1B visas, there are no numerical limit for O visas.
For musicians, artists, and performers who are just starting out in their career in the U.S., an O visa may be one option to work in the U.S. as they build their resume and network to apply for an EB-1 later down the road. Please feel free to contact our office for a consultation regarding your eligibility for an O visa.