O1B Visa: Suitable for Movie, TV and Film Industry

The O1B visa category is similar in many ways to the O1A visa category requiring extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences and other industries, although the O1B visa is intended for those persons with proven extraordinary achievement in Motion Picture or TV productions.

So how does one prove that you have reached a demonstrated level of prominence in your field enough to qualify for an O1B visa? Well, the regulations are structured in a manner that provides an applicant with two opportunities to qualify.

The first, an extremely limited opportunity, requires an applicant to have received recognition for his/her work via a major nationally or internationally recognized award such as an Academy award or an Emmy or its equivalent.

The other, much more accessible opportunity to qualify for this visa, requires an applicant to satisfy at least three of six suggested criteria. Note that although the regulations state that only three of these six need be shown, there are situations in which a well prepared petition will touch on more than just three of these elements where proper. So let’s briefly consider these six in turn:

The beneficiary of an O1B visa petition must evidence, through a variety of possible evidentiary forms that he/she has:

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in a production or event that has a distinguished reputation;
  • Received national or international recognition for achievements (note that this does not have to rise to the level of an Academy award to be persuasive);
  • Performed or starred in a lead role for an organization that has a distinguished reputation;
  • A record of commercial or critically acclaimed success as evidenced via standing in the field, ratings, reviews, or through others forms of evidence;
  • Received recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, or other experts in the field via testimonials; and/or
  • Commanded or will command a high salary for services in relation to others in the field.

Accordingly, it is clear that one of the keys to a successful O1B visa petition is to show that your degree of skill and recognition is above that level ordinarily encountered in the field. The burden of proof to be evidenced for an O1B visa petition in motion picture and television productions is in between the lowest level of scrutiny placed upon persons in the arts (which is a broad category) and the highest scrutiny which is placed on persons in the sciences, business, and athletics.

What Professions Fall Under the Umbrella of “Arts” for an O1B Visa?

“…any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. Aliens engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers but other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians, and animal trainers.”

If I work in Business or the Arts but my proffered employment is related to Motion Picture Productions, which standard will my O1B petition be held to?

In 2008 the Administrative Appeals Office held that the specific job you are petitioned for decides under which O1B level of scrutiny your petition will be considered. There is a difference in standards applied to petition for those in the Arts and those in professions in Motion Picture and Television productions. In this case, the AAO was considering an appeal of a denied O1B visa petition for a freelance editor. The AAO provided:

“All O1B non-immigrants, regardless of the exact field of endeavor, must seek entry into the United States to “continue work in the area of extraordinary ability” or “extraordinary achievement” pursuant to section 101 (a)(l5)(0)(i) of the Act and 8 C.F.R. 214.2(o)(l)(ii)(A). The beneficiary can only continue work in a given area if he or she has already been working in that area. Whatever the beneficiary may have done in the past, the petitioner is a video production company.. To the extent that the petitioner may employ the beneficiary as an O1B nonimmigrant, her work clearly will be in motion picture and television productions, corporate videos and commercials. Because the petitioner seeks to employ the beneficiary in motion picture and television productions, it was reasonable for the director to consider the petition in the context of “motion picture and television productions” rather than under the category of ‘arts.'”

“Helping you to obtain the right visa, when you need it”

When you contact our firm for an initial consultation, we will take the time to educate and explain the USCIS immigration laws, regulations and the visa application procedures for your particular case. As a client, you will receive personal attention and work directly with an experienced attorney who will be able to answer any questions you have and keep you informed and aware of new developments as your case moves forward.

For all of your legal immigration needs, contact the immigration lawyers of Muston & Jack, P.C., at our San Francisco, San Jose or Pasadena California law offices to schedule an initial consultation.

  • Gabriel Jack helped us apply for an O-1 Visa, when we needed to change visa status and we got it! The documentation required for an O-1 visa is extensive but we managed to complete everything together with Gabriel in about 4 weeks. Gabriel is very professional and knows what is important and he is also easy to talk to and helpful. We are very pleased and will use Gabriel again should there be a need.
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  • Gabriel did a good job. He was easy to deal with, returned calls and did what he said he would – nice change from some lawyers I’ve dealt with. My E3 was approved with no trouble at all…and he’s a really nice person, which is a good bonus. Thanks Gabe!!
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  • We had previously shopped around for an immigration lawyer, but we went with Gabriel. He was very knowledgeable, friendly, and thorough. He was able to help us to prepare a very detailed interview packet, and we got our E2 visa at the end of the interview.
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