Essential Cast and Crew Entertainment Visas
Are you producing a movie, concert, television series, or theatrical show and you need talent or crew from outside the United States that is not necessarily extraordinary? There is a way to obtain work visas for these individuals to allow them to enter and work legally in the United States even if they are not extraordinary!
As you might be aware, the O Visa (Extraordinary Ability) is the popular choice in the entertainment industry to bring in either talent or crew members to work here in the United States. However, the issue arises if some of the individuals you want to have come in are not considered “extraordinary” according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). There is a solution for these individuals – the O-2 Visa for support personnel. The production would identify the one extraordinary individual and then bring in the others (who are not necessarily extraordinary) as support personnel to the principal O-1B extraordinary individual. For example, if a production is being filmed in Canada, and the majority of the crew are Canadians, but post production needs to be completed in the United States; how do you bring in the necessary Canadian citizens into the United States to finish the production? You would identify the most extraordinary of the crew or cast (e.g. director, lead actor, cinematographer, etc.) as the O-1B and then the remaining cast and/or crew who support this individual would obtain O-2 visas. The requirements that must be met in order to obtain O-2 visas for the support personnel are the following:
The individual must:
1. Enter solely for the purpose of assisting in the O-1 individual’s performance;
2. Be an integral part of the actual performance;
3. Have skills and experience with the O-1 individual that are not of a general nature;
*The skills must be critical based on a pre-existing, long standing working relationship; or
**The skills are critical with respect to the specific production because significant production will occur inside and outside the United States and the continuing participation of the individual is essential to the successful completion of the production.
4. Have a foreign residence they do not intend to abandon.
In the current production environment, there is a lot of movement of cast and crew around the world in order to allow for the most optimal and cost effective result. Therefore, it is imperative to strategize and plan with an experienced immigration lawyer to apply for the proper visas, and get them approved in a timely manner, so productions are not held up or delayed. We have been assisting production companies for over 12 years and understand the tight deadlines and necessity to be efficient and flexible so that the goals, objectives, and budgets of the productions are minimally affected by the visa process. We help make sure you get the production done!