Imported from old blog at tanyavital.blogspot
I attended a Visa Seminar at the weekend hosted by Industry Hollywood. I will attempt to dissect a 3 hour seminar into a digestible blog post, however it will all be very basic information just to introduce you to the idea and to give a brief understanding of what’s required. The US 0-1 working Visa for Entertainers of “extraordinary ability” is a legal minefield and there are some things that you just cannot explain on paper – hence the 3 hour seminar. There are also some Industry Hollywood company links and procedures that I can’t give away for free. Boooo! Yeah I know, but they’re a business too and for me to just give away their hard earned work for nothing would be unethical and stupid! (How many times have I said the Acting community is small and you don’t want to piss anybody off?).
So – with this in mind please have a read and you will at least get the bare bones of what it’s all about:
What is is?
“The O-1 non-immigrant visa is for foreign nationals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have demonstrated a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognised nationally or internationally for those achievements. O-1 visas require an employer sponsor – a foreign national cannot petition for an O-1 visa on his or her own behalf”. (http://www.immigrationdirect.com/visas/work/O-1-Visa-Application.jsp)
So the description of the 0-1 Visa is pretty straight forward. For this Visa Artists must be deemed to have “extraordinary ability”. The reason Industry Hollywood recommend this particular type of working Visa is because it is an ‘umbrella’ Visa which allows the Artist to take part in all kinds of media production rather than limiting yourself to just one field, for example: Voice Over, Commercial, Film and Television.
The Visa is an agreement with the US Government that you can stay in the country and work in your particular field, for the allotted time. It takes approximately 3-6 months (providing you have all the necessary paraphernalia) to be given an answer to your application. You will be given a Social Security number (National Insurance number) and you will pay tax to the US Government on your earnings. The Visa typically lasts for 3 years, the Artist can then be based in the US and if you’re lucky enough to be able to work on both sides of the pond, the Artist can apparently work and travel freely between the US and the UK.
You may – like I did, think ‘damn “extraordinary ability”, well I’m certainly no Kate Winslet, I’ll never get my Visa!’ Not true! If you have been working in the industry for a while, you’d be surprised at how many things you already have in your memorabilia collection and contacts list that will help you start your application.
What you need
I’ve noticed many variations on the internet of the requirements you need for your application so I am going to go with what Industry Hollywood say. This is a VERY brief list of the things that you need to get your started on your Visa application – using my own headings ;o) – for a complimentary list please go to Industry Hollywood or US Immigration
13 or so letters of recommendation:
From the professional companies you’ve worked for and the people you have worked with. They all need to prove that you have indeed got “extraordinary ability” in the arts. This may include Directors and Producers etc.
Letters/Articles reviewing your performances:
Any posts or publishings that review any of your past performances or work.
Portfolio of Media:
Proof of your work – ya know – the stuff your mum keeps. So any magazine cut outs or pages, scripts, publicity shots, ad campaigns, press releases, newspapers, photos, copies of web pages and websites. Lots of this to show you are actually who you say you are and that you again, do possess “extraordinary ability”.
Proof of any awards received and any nominations for your work at Television Awards, Film festivals or radio awards.
3 Year Forecast/Projection:
You also need to know what you will be doing with your time over the 3 year period, to show the US Immigration why you need a 3 year Visa rather than just a 1 year Visa. This includes any work undertaken, filming, rehearsing, classes and meetings arranged.
You also need a Sponsor, which is a US company/Show/Director/Producer that shows interest in you or your work, can vouch for you and petition on your behalf and has an offer of work or proposal for you when you get to the US with your 0-1 Visa.
You also need a Lawyer or Legal specialist that deals with US working Visa’s for ENTERTAINERS. Do not get a general Lawyer or UK Solicitor who deals with general working Visas. Give yourself half a chance by paying someone who deals with this issue DAY IN DAY OUT.
Daunted?? Again DON’T be! It is a lot of stuff to collect, gather and research but Richard Burke of Industry Hollywood broke each part down into lay-mans terms and once you get past the legal jargon, he explains how to get what you need and where to look for it – the fear disappears and you realise EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
The bottom line is you can’t work legally in America without a working Visa. Let’s just consider the “jobs” you could be offered in the US Entertainment Industry illegally for a second . . . . . . . .
Yeah not so appealing right? You need a Visa.
There are of course other ways to get your Visa – for example: an American Director could be looking to cast his new film and there is nobody in the whole of the United States that can play the part. He/She randomly finds you on Spotlight and you’re exactly what they want, they scramble to sign you up. That Production Company could then POTENTIALLY apply for a Visa for you – for that job alone, which would then mean you STILL had to go through the Visa process again at some point to be able to stay in the country or even audition for more work.
Reality is – they definitely don’t have the time to go through all that, so they would probably just dump the idea of getting you out there and get someone with a Visa.
I cannot stress enough that I have just literally touched the bare bones of what we were taught on Sunday. Again the information is so intricate it is impossible to relay on paper, it’s much better hearing it all face to face trust me!
I am not on the Payroll at Industry Hollywood, I am not getting a discount, I can only relay any of the good stuff I find to help you guys and hope you do the same for me. The Industry Hollywood seminar was informative, concise and I’ve come away much better prepared with a few more contacts and links for when/if I decide to make an application.
Industry Hollywood also give you names of a couple of Lawyers they work with regularly, who have a brilliant success rate. The seminar also covered the menial things about living in LA like accommodation, vehicle licence, health care, trade unions, Drama Teachers and budgeting. I would definitely recommend you go if you are seriously considering seeking work in the States.
Here is the link to the Industry Hollywood Seminar
Here is the link to the US Immigration website