Visa Options for Fashion Models (Part 1) - The H-1B3 Model Visa

Visa Options for Fashion Models (Part 1) - The H-1B3 Model Visa

fashion model silhouette Models from all over the world may enter the United States for a temporary stay on a visa to model or participate in modeling events. If you are a model in the fashion industry and you are in search of a U.S. visa, you may not fully understand your options. This article addresses the common visa options for models coming to the U.S.

H-1B Work Visa: Allows Modeling for Three Year Stay in U.S.

Under the H-1B Visa Program, a fashion model can come to the United States to work for a modeling agency for a three year period of stay. The H-1B program allows an employer to temporarily employ a foreign worker in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant (temporary) basis in a specialty occupation or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. The H-1B3 “model” visa can be extended for up to six years. A major benefit of coming in as an H-1B3 visa model is that it allows for you to seek permanent residence (or a green card) in the United States. There are two basic requirements to obtain an H-1B visa as a fashion model:

  1. You must be qualified as a “distinguished” fashion model in the industry; and
  2. You must have a written job offer from an employer in the United States.
Employer Must Require a Fashion Model of Prominence

In order to be employed in the U.S. as a fashion model, it must be demonstrated that the model is of distinguished merit and ability. A “distinguished” fashion model is a model that has gained some recognition for his/her talents as a model. This would include winning contests, pageants, or any other modeling contest. In addition, highly recognized models from overseas may present evidence of payment of high remuneration for their work as a model as evidence of distinguished merit.

The federal regulations require a prospective employer to show that the model is prominent in the field and that the position requires prominence. Prominence is defined as “a high level of achievement as evidence by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered … The person must be renowned, leading, or well-known.” The H-1B3 category for distinguished models does not include hair stylists and make-up artists who may apply under other nonimmigrant categories such as O-1 or H-2B.

The Employer Must Submit an Offer Letter to the Model

The H-1B3 model visa requires the employer to submit a copy of the written contract or summary of the terms of the oral agreement. Modeling agencies will issue a performance contract prior to the employment engagement. This will suffice under the standard. Many models come to the U.S. to perform at a nationally or internationally recognized event. This must be documented. Under the federal regulations, the employer must show the services to be performed for a distinguished event or production, or for an organization that has a distinguished reputation or record of employing prominent persons.

What are the Requirements for the Model under H-1B3?<

The fashion model must document two of the four following criteria:

  1. The model must show national or international recognition as evidenced by critical reviews, articles, news stories, etc.
  2. The model must be performing for employers that have a distinguished reputation;
  3. Recognition by experts or critics; or
  4. Commands high salary in relation to others.

It must be stressed that the fashion model only needs to present two of the four above-mentioned criteria to be granted an H-1B3 model visa. This would not be difficult if the model were extensively written about by critics and the agency employing the model in the U.S. is well-known. Other scenarios may be a close call requiring advice from an experienced law firm.

In Part 2 of the “model visa” series, I will be presenting another option available to fashion models seeking to enter the United States, namely: the O-1 Fashion Model Visa. Briefly stated, the O-1 model visa allows foreign models of extraordinary abilities to visit the U.S. for a temporary stay. This is not quite as advantageous as the H-1B3 model visa since the O-1 visa is only valid for one year and does not offer a path to permanent residency.

How to Contact Us<

If you have questions about an H-1B3 Model Visa, immigration visa or green card matter, and/or you need help in an immigration process, please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates Co., LPA at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney. Our law firm handles various matters including H-1B visas, Green Cards and Permanent Residence, family immigration, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, employment visas, Investor Visas, PERM applications, and many more. Please contact us and experience how our law firm can assist you in your immigration matters. Whether you are a modeling agency, or a fashion model or a family member of a fashion model, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA has competent, responsive and innovative lawyers who can make your immigration experience pleasant and seamless.



Our lawyers will individually and clearly explain the visa or green card process and will simplify the complex procedure in small, easy to understand steps.
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