Artists tend not to have full-time jobs but rather contracts with different companies and individuals. This has been recognized by USCIS and it means artists who do not have full-time employment must have an agent. This had not created problems in the past. However, within the last year or so, USCIS seems to be adjudicating these cases more strictly.
Whereas in the past, casual letters of intent (“LOI”) were accepted, now they are demanding more definite dates, venues and projects, with payment rates. We are helping clients draft these agreements in a way which is acceptable to the employers and to the Immigration Service.
You should also be aware that USCIS has revised the I-129 form and is now asking whether the beneficiary has ownership interest in the petitioning company. This makes it significantly harder for O-1 artists who have set up their own US companies and used their company as a sponsor. It is still possible to have your own company and have a contract with your own company as long as you have an agent/sponsor. However, your own company can no longer sponsor you for the visa. Our office has filed numerous cases using this format.
We work with several organizations and companies that will act as agent and sponsor and support the artist in terms of getting paid, etc. It’s more critical than ever to have an agent/ sponsor that understands the needs of the O-1 client and will cooperate on all fronts.