Contrary to popular opinion, the O-1 visa is not a “freelance” work visa. O-1s cannot sponsor themselves. The O-1 visa requires a sponsor or petitioner. A sponsor is someone who intends to work with the beneficiary in a professional capacity and is willing to help that person obtain valid working status in the U.S. in order to do so. The sponsor may be an individual or an organization, but needs to somehow be involved in the beneficiary’s field.
Types of O-1 Sponsors
For the O-1 visa, there are two types of sponsors:
- A direct employer – This is a person or company to whom the beneficiary will be directly providing service. In a direct employer scenario, the beneficiary can only work for that company or organization. For example, if the beneficiary is a Producer and will work on one television series for a three year period with one singular sponsoring network, the direct employer option would work here.
- An agent or manager – An agent or manager is someone who is hired to represent the beneficiary’s interests and obtain work on their behalf. Most O-1 applicants seek this type of sponsorship as it does not tie them down to one specific employer, so long as the agent or manager continues to represent them.
The U.S. Agent may also be:
- The actual employer of the beneficiary;
- The representative of both the employer and the beneficiary; or
- A person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.
Documentation Required for an O-1 Petition
The O-1 visa application requires specific documentation proving the employer/beneficiary relationship. A copy of any written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed must be provided.
USCIS will accept an oral contract, as evidenced by the summation of the elements of the oral agreement. Evidence may include emails between the contractual parties, a written summary of the terms of the agreement, or any other evidence that demonstrates the oral agreement was created. The oral agreement must contain what was offered by the employer and what was accepted by the employee. The summary does not have to be signed by both parties to establish the oral agreement, but it must document the terms of the employment offered and that the beneficiary has agreed to the offer.
USCIS also typically requires that an itinerary must be provided for an O-1 filing. The itinerary is an explanation of the nature of the events or activities and clearly lists the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities. The petitioner must establish that there are events or activities in the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary ability for the full validity period requested.
Berardi Immigration Law Can Assist with your O-1 Visa Application
If you are interested in applying for an O-1 visa or have questions regarding sponsorship, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today!