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The exciting and fast-paced world of fashion is a major component of the field of immigration law. One facet of this involves the numerous fashion models who come to the U.S. to each year to work with American model agencies. Some of these successful models will be featured on the covers of top magazines such as Allure, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W Magazine. Models may also walk the runways for prestigious designers at important events such as New York Fashion Week, Los Angeles Fashion Week, and Miami Fashion Week.

Fashion Models typically enter the United States on the H-1B3 visa or the O-1B visa. While both will allow a model to work in the United States, there are important differences between the two visa types.

The H-1B3 visa is available to models who can demonstrate a reputation of distinguished merit and ability. However, the H-1B is restricted to 65,000 visas per year and last year over 250,000 applications were filed. Unless a model already has H-1B, a petition must be filed by April 1st and the model cannot begin working until October 1st. This timeline is critical and often does not accommodate the fashion field. It is also important to note that an individual can only remain in H-1B status for a period of 6 years.  However, there are exceptions for individuals in the process of applying for permanent residence in the United States.

On the other hand, the O-1 visa is a great option for fashion models and has many advantages. An individual can apply for an O-1 at any time during the year and there are no visa quotas as there are with H-1B visas. O-1 classification can be extended indefinitely—as long as the model continues to work in their field and has a petition sponsor.

An important fact about the O-1 nonimmigrant visa is that the standard of eligibility is higher than the H-1B3. The model must be able to demonstrate that he or she has a reputation of distinction.   This requirement can be met by submitting evidence such as: magazine tear sheets, ad campaign work, runway photos, press articles, awards, and high rates of compensation. It is also helpful to demonstrate that the model has worked with distinguished model agencies abroad and to provide testimonial letters from prominent individuals who can confirm the model’s extraordinary reputation and work history. The model must have an agent to sponsor the visa petition as well as an itinerary of upcoming work in the U.S.

While the process for preparing an O-1 petition can seem intimidating, our team of experienced lawyers and paralegals are well qualified to guide you. We will assist with each step in the process, from document collection to scheduling a visa appointment. Our team of legal experts will help you to maximize the chances of approval, address your concerns, and move the process along as swiftly as possible.

It is important to have a law firm on your side that is experienced and capable of devising solutions that meet your needs. At Wildes & Weinberg, we have an astounding track record of success in handling O-1 petitions for models and our firm regularly works with several prominent U.S. agencies.  Our O-1 team remains up to date on current issues and how to deal with the challenges people are experiencing with O-1s. We take pride in ensuring the integrity of the O-1 process so that both the model and agency are protected in every way. At Wildes & Weinberg, you can be sure that your matter will receive the personal attention it deserves.

Questions? Contact Managing Partner Michael Wildes: michael@wildeslaw.com.

For Further Information On How We Can Help Your Firm Meet Its Employment Eligibility Verification Obligations, Please Contact Amy Wildes At amy@wildesweinberg.com

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