Navigating the Path to Visa Sponsorship for Fine Artists:

How Do I Find Representation with an Art Gallery in the United States?

We are often asked by international artists looking for representation and wanting to secure a visa what are the first steps towards these goals. Here are the five steps you need to know to find representation and visa sponsorship with an art gallery or dealer based in the United States:

Step 1: Discuss your options with an immigration lawyer.

Every artist is unique and a path that might work for one client may not work for another. That’s why the first conversation and forming a connection with each of our clients is so important. Together, we’ll look at every angle, determine your goals, options and then navigate the most beneficial path to visa sponsorship.

Step 2: Gather the facts. Determine what visa sponsorship means for you.

For fine artists, photographers, painters, sculptors, and similar visual artists one of the most common misconceptions about sponsorship for an artist visa is that there is a fee assumed by the gallery or agency to sponsor you or that your work must be exclusive for the organization agreeing to represent you. In fact, an artist visa costs the gallery or organization agreeing to sponsor or “vouch” for your talent zero dollars. The sponsor agrees to accept official visa paperwork and documents on your behalf, add you to their roster of talent they represent and potentially oversee your work in the United States  if they take on the added duty as your professional representative.

Step 3: Find representation and sponsorship with an art gallery in the United States.

With more than 6,500 art galleries and dealers in the US and a combined annual revenue of $8B (source: Quora) there is no shortage of options for representation across the nation. It then becomes the job of the applicant, in this case you, the artist, to determine which gallery or dealer is the right fit for your work.

For instance, some galleries exclusively represent graffiti artists while others represent artists from Spain while others focus on tribal art. Other galleries may insist on exclusive control over your work on a global scale while others allow for more freedom in how you choose to work. There are a range of galleries for a range of styles and collectors. As an artist, you put yourself at the best possible advantage if you can isolate those galleries that are most aligned with your vision and the type of work you are creating so that you can have the best possible opportunity to share your work with a US-based audience.

Step 4: Formalize the agreement with the gallery or dealer that will represent you.

If you have selected an art gallery or agency to sponsor your visa, then great work, you’re nearly there. The next step is to formalize the agreement of sponsorship. As we mentioned before, sponsorship in this instance does not necessarily refer to an exchange of money, it is however a recognition of your talent, an endorsement of your extraordinary ability and a relationship based on representation for visa application purposes at the very minimum.

Step 5: Collect and complete the paperwork!

While this step, or the “homework phase” as we like to call it, might not be the most glamorous part of the immigration journey, it is one of the most important. It’s worth repeating and remembering that the immigration journey is a process and details matter! It can be overwhelming to navigate the land of forms, but the good news for you is that’s where the Lehach Filippa team shines, together we’ll get there. In order to be successful, we will need the following from you:

A good rule of thumb; any materials (printed or published) that highlight and speak to your exceptional talent is useful and should be included in your application.  There is no such thing as too much.  When it comes to extraordinary ability, both the quality and quantity of your supporting documents are both important.

For more information or if you have specific questions, we want to hear from you! Contact us at