The H-1B visa allows people in “specialty occupations” to live and work in the United States temporarily. A lesser-known aspect of the program also allows fashion models to come to the U.S. to work. Federal law limits the annual number of new H-1B visas that the government can issue, meaning that many individuals seeking an H-1B visa for a particular fiscal year will be disappointed. Several other types of visas are available for fashion models who want to come to the U.S. for work, provided they meet the qualifications. Fashion model visas have been the subject of media attention in recent months, largely due to allegations arising from the presidential election. Specifically, several models formerly employed by one candidate claim that they were present in the U.S. with tourist visas, which would not have allowed them to work as models.
Federal immigration law provides a specific type of visa for workers in “specialty occupations” or “fashion models.” 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b). A specialty occupation job that qualifies for an H-1B visa must require an advanced degree and the specialized knowledge or skills that come with such a degree in order to perform the work. The total number of new H-1B visas available each fiscal year is capped at 65,000. Id. at § 1184(g)(1)(A). Immigration officials receive a substantially higher number of H-1B petitions every year.
The H-1B fashion model visa, also known as the H-1B3 visa, is available to individuals of “distinguished merit and ability in the field of fashion modeling,” who want to come to the U.S. “to perform services which require a fashion model of prominence.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(h)(4)(i)(C). Federal immigration regulations define “prominence” in fashion modeling in a rather circular manner, as being “renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of fashion modeling.” Id. at § 214.2(h)(4)(ii). A model or their employer may establish their “prominence” in the field with documentation of their past work and with affidavits from people with knowledge of the industry. Id. at § 214.2(h)(4)(vii). They must also provide a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. 8 U.S.C. § 1182(n)(1).
The O-1 visa is another possible option for fashion models, although it arguably sets an even higher bar than the H-1B3 visa. It is available to people with “extraordinary ability in…business…which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim,” or a “demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement” in movies or television. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(O)(i). The P-3 visa is available to “an artist or entertainer” coming to the U.S. for a “culturally unique” performance or program. Id. at § 1101(a)(15)(P)(iii). While these do not seem to relate directly to fashion modeling, they could apply to some individual models.
Employment visa attorney Samuel C. Berger represents immigrants in New York City and Northern New Jersey, as well as prospective immigrants who want to move to this area, businesses that want to petition for their employees, and families seeking visas for their relatives. To schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can help you, contact us today online, at (201) 587-1500, or at (212) 380-8117.
More Blog Posts:
Individual H-1B Wage Complaint Does Not Authorize Government to Initiate Company-Wide Investigation, According to Judge, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, September 22, 2016
Employer’s Failure to Notify Federal Government of H-1B Employee’s Termination Results in Penalty of Nearly $183,000, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 11, 2016
Lawsuit Seeks Transparency Regarding Selection of H-1B Visas, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, June 9, 2016