Artist Visas for Fashion Models

If you’re a fashion model and unsure of which visa to apply for and what to expect from the process, don’t worry we’re got you covered and are here to help. We have outlined the most common visas for those in the modeling industry.

1.    O-1 Non-immigrant visa:

Also known as the “artist visa”, the O-1 allows models to live and work in the U.S. if a model is sponsored by a modeling agent or agency in the U.S. in addition, a model must demonstrate extraordinary ability through evidence (such as abundant tear sheets, reference letters from leaders in the industry), be sponsored by a modeling agency or agent in the U.S. and have an itinerary of fashion modeling projects. The O-1 visa can be granted for a three year period of temporary employment with the petitioning employer, depending on the length of projects on the itinerary.

2.    H-1B Visa Non-immigrant visa petition for a temporary employee:

An H-1B non immigrant visa is generally for members of “specialty occupations”, applying to more traditional occupations such as physicians, accountant, architects, etc. However, a H-1B visa may also be granted to a model who is of distinguished merit and ability in the field of fashion modeling and prominent in the industry. The model must also be coming to the U.S. to preform services that require someone of their talent and caliber. The H-1 visa for example can be filed starting April 1 for an employment start date of October 1 of the same calendar year and is for a three year period of temporary employment with the petitioning employer. The H1-B is numerically limited to 65,000 per year so applying as early as possible is recommended.

The Proof

In order to meet the standard for distinguished merit and ability, this usually requires national or international recognition, which can be documented by such evidence as clippings showing model appearances in recognized and respected publications (a.k.a. tear sheets).

The petitioner, usually a modeling agency or an agent who is sponsoring the model must establish that the position meets one of the following criteria:

1.    The services to be performed involve events or productions which have distinguished reputation;

2.    The services are to be performed for an organization or establishment that has a distinguished reputation or record of employing prominent persons

A petitioner must establish that a beneficiary is a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability by the submission of documentation showing that the alien:

1.    Has achieved national or international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievements in his or her field, as evidenced by published materials

2.    Has performed and will perform services as a fashion model for employers with a distinguished reputation

3.    Has received recognition for significant achievements from organizations, critics, fashion houses, modeling agencies, or other recognized experts in the field; or

4.    Commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence


For further questions or to learn about the Greencard process for fashion models send us a note at