Just like most nonimmigrant visas, you cannot self-petition for an O-1 visa. Your O-1 visa petition must be sponsored by an authorized United States-based individual or organization. Even if you want to work for multiple employers as a contractor or freelancer, your petition must be sponsored by those employers or by an agent. Authorized sponsors of an O-1 petition include:
An employer who will be providing you with a job can sponsor your O-1 visa petition. If you intend to only work one job the entire duration of your visa, then you only need one sponsor. It must be established that the employer has a job offer for you. There must be an agreement on the job description, the wages, and other terms and condition between you and the employer. If you will be working for multiple employers, then each employer must submit a separate petition detailing the activities involved in the jobs.
When there is not a traditional employee/employer relationship it can be helpful to have a U.S. agent sponsor the O-1 petition. An agent can file for traditionally self-employed workers such as actors and musicians or for workers who use agents to arrange short-term employment with different employers. An agent may be the actual employer of the petitioner, an agent for multiple employers, or may represent both the employer and the petitioner. The visa application must detail the exact relationship that exists between you and the agent.
Whichever option you choose, it is important to remember that the activities and jobs you perform must be specified in the O-1 visa petition and will remain binding on your O-1 status. Engaging in activities and employment that are not listed in your petition may be a violation of your visa regulations. If you desire to change your status in some way, then a new petition must be filed.
Applying for an O-1 visa can be a complicated process so you want to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the application process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.