Under current USCIS regulations, there are several possible types of agents when it comes to the O-1 petitioning process. A U.S. agent and/or manager may be (i) the actual employer of the O-1 beneficiary, (ii) the representative of both the O-1 employer and the O-1 beneficiary or (iii) a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent to file the O-1 visa petition.
Often when a prospective beneficiary seeks O-1 status, he or she may be looking to work for more than one employer within the same time period for which the visa applies. For instance, the beneficiary might want to perform multiple services and jobs, presenting a situation where there is only one O beneficiary, but the possibility of multiple employers. In such cases where the beneficiary will be working for multiple employers, either each employer may file a Form I-129 on behalf of the beneficiary with each respective USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the employment, or an authorized agent can petition on behalf of the beneficiary and multiple employers, as long as several conditions are met. The latter is usually the more practical and common route that most beneficiaries prefer to take.
If you are a qualified artist, producer, composer, actor, etc. and you have a professional agent who can represent you for your work in the U.S., the agent can sponsor your O-1 petition. Agents with experience in a specific industry as a professional agent will then also be able to find and refer appropriate work to you in your field of expertise.
However, if you do not have such professional representation through an individual or entity agent, rest assured. In accordance with USCIS regulations, it is not required that the petitioner serve as an agent outside the context of the O-1 petition. This essentially means that if you wish to designate an acquaintance, friend or business associate to serve as your “agent” petitioner for the purpose of the O-1 petition, it is perfectly allowed by the regulations, provided that you and your employer(s) authorize this individual to represent and act on behalf of you and your multiple employers. In choosing this route, it is important to note that there are specific evidentiary requirements that must be met. These may include documentary evidence establishing the agent-artist relationship along with the terms and condition governing the relationship, as well as between the agent and multiple employers. However, it is not required that the agent-petitioner demonstrate that it normally serves as an agent outside the context of the O-1 petition.
For instance, a petition involving multiple employers may be filed by a person or company in business as an agent if: (1) the supporting documentation includes a complete itinerary of the events; (2) the itinerary specifies the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of performance venues; (3) the contracts between each employer and the beneficiary; and (4) the agent explains the terms and conditions of the employment and provides any required documentation.
If the agent is the actual employer of the beneficiary, the agent may petition on behalf of the beneficiary as well as other multiple employers if two conditions are met. First, (1) the supporting documentation includes a complete itinerary of the event(s); (2) the itinerary specifies the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of the establishments, venues, or locations where the services will be performed; (3) the contracts between the employers and the beneficiary are submitted; and (4) the agent explains the terms and conditions of the employment and provides any required documentation. Second, the agent must be “in business as an agent.” This requires that the petitioner show that it is in business as an agent but only for the limited purpose of the O-1 petition, i.e. that the agent is authorized to act as an agent for the multiple employers for the purpose of filing the O-1 petition.
Lastly, evidence tending to establish that the agent is “in business as an agent” includes a document signed by the other employers stating that the agent is authorized to act in each employer’s place as an agent for the limited purpose of filing the O-1 petition, a statement confirming the relevant information signed by the agent and all the employers, other types of agency representation contracts, fee arrangements, and statements from the other employees regarding the agent’s representation of the employers and the beneficiary.
Given the flexible option in having an agent serve as the petitioner that allows working for multiple employers, the O-1 is one of the most viable options for qualified individuals seeking to work in the United States. For more information on the O visa classification, contact our Immigration Practice Group at 718-539-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.