Do you dream of walking down the runway at New York Fashion Week? Are you interested in becoming a brand ambassador for a prestigious luxury brand? Whether you’ve mastered the catwalk or discovered your niche in commercial modelling, several visa options are available depending on your level of achievement and reason for coming to the U.S.
Fashion models typically enter the U.S. in one of two ways— the O-1B visa (for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement) or the H-1B visa (for Specialty Occupations, Department of Defense Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models). The majority of fashion models will apply for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, while a third option for models is the P-3 visa (for Artists and Entertainers who are Participating in a Culturally Unique Program).
H-1B3 Visa for Fashion Models
To qualify for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, you must be a fashion model of “prominence” and the model must possess distinguished merit or ability.
Length of stay: May be admitted for a period of up to 3 years. The visa may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond 6 years, with some exceptions.
Availability: Subject to the H-1B visa annual numerical limit of 65,000 visas per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 under the H-1B advanced degree exemption.
Deadlines: USCIS begins accepting H-1B petitions on April 1 (for an October start date). Due to the competitive nature of the H-1B and lottery limited to 85,000 applicants (including the Master’s Degree cap), it is important to start preparing your application as soon as possible. In 2017, the application period was full by April 7, 2017, and USCIS stopped accepting applications on that date.
Who Files the Petition: Must be filed by a U.S. employer, most often the model’s American management company.
Employer Requirements: The employer must obtain a certification of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor which requires the employer to attest to the following requirements:
Wages: Employer will pay the model a wage which is no less than the wage paid to a similarly qualified worker, or if greater, the prevailing wage for the position in the geographic area where beneficiary will be working.
Working conditions: Employer will provide the model with working conditions that will not adversely affect other similarly employed workers. At the time of the Labor Condition Application, there can be no strike or lockout at the business. Employer must also provide notice to the union representative or must post in place of business that Labor Condition Application has been filed with Department of Labor.
O-1B Visa for Artists with Extraordinary Ability
For models who have reached the pinnacle of the industry, the O-1B visa is an option. The model must possess extraordinary ability in the field which can be demonstrated by major commercial success, significant recognition for achievements, and high salary, among other types of evidence. For more information about the O-1B visa, click here.
P-3 Visa for Artists Coming to be Part of a Culturally Unique Program
Models may also be eligible for the P-3 visa which is available to artists and entertainers who come to the U.S. to participate in a culturally unique” event or program that furthers the art form. The model must come to the U.S. to develop, interpret, represent, coach or teach a unique or traditional cultural or artistic performance or presentation. An example of an event might be a model’s trade show sponsored by an American company that highlights the costumes and dances of a particular country. For more information about the P-3 visa, click here.
Do you qualify for the H-1B3, O-1B or P-3 visa?
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*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.
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