Immigration Services

Immigration Services

For Artists & Entertainers

Agents as O-1 Petitioners

The O-1 visa is available to individuals with extraordinary abilities, and the O-1 petition may be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent. An O-1 worker cannot self-petition.

Q: When can a U.S. agent file as a petitioner for an O-1 beneficiary?

A: The regulations allow agents to be petitioners in the following scenarios:
  • A U.S. agent can file for traditionally self-employed workers, or workers who use agents to arrange short-term employment with numerous employers; or
  • A foreign employer who authorizes an agent to act on his/her behalf.
A U.S. agent may 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(s) to act in place of the employer(s) as an agent.
Q: Does a U.S. agent have to show that it normally serves as an agent?

A: No, petitioner/agent does not have to demonstrate that it normally serves as an agent outside the context of the O-1 petition. The “agency” relationship is established by presenting a document signed by the entities where the O-1 beneficiary will work that the petitioner is authorized to act as an agent for the limited purpose of filing the O-1 petition.

Q: Can the U. S. agent be the actual employer of the beneficiary?

A: Yes, a U.S. agent can be the actual employer. When an agent petitions for the beneficiary as the employer, the petition must include the contract, deal memo or summary of the terms of the agreement between the agent and the beneficiary which specifies the wage offered and other terms and conditions of employment.

Q: Can a U.S. agent who is the employer/petitioner for the beneficiary, also serve as an agent for other (multiple) employers?

A: Yes, a U.S. agent may be the actual employer and may also file a petition on behalf of the beneficiary as an agent and on behalf of any other employer of the O-1 beneficiary.

Q: When a U.S. agent files for a traditionally self-employed worker, on behalf of multiple employers, are contracts required with the employers where the beneficiary will be employed?

A: Yes, a contract, deal memo or summary of the terms of the agreement between the employer and the beneficiary is required to be submitted with an O-1 petition filed by an agent. The contract provides USCIS with evidence that actual work exists and the O-1 worker is coming to the United States to work in the field of extraordinary ability.

Q: Can additional performances or engagements be added to a petition?

A: Yes, a petitioner may add additional performances for an O-1 artist or entertainer during the validity period of the petition without filing an amended petition.

Q: Can a self-incorporated person petition for himself or herself in the O-1 classification?

A: The regulations require that an O-1 petition be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent. The regulations also state that an O-1 worker may not petition for himself or herself.

Q: Can a foreign employer be a corporation owned by the beneficiary?

A: Yes, a foreign employer may be a corporation owned wholly or in part by the beneficiary, but the foreign employer must utilize a U.S. agent to file the petition.

This information is partially extracted and adapted from USCIS Listening Session on O Nonimmigrant Classifications Question and Answers (posted on on 12/21/10).

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