As an artist or actor living abroad, the prospect of bringing your skills and talents to the United States is exciting. The city of Los Angeles, in particular, is home to thousands of actors that have the same hopes you probably do – to showcase their talent and gain opportunities that may not be available at home.

However, before you board that plane, you should prepare for the legal and monetary challenges you may face. Here are some tips to help you:

Know Your Visas

You absolutely need a visa to perform for monetary gain in the U.S. Actors should seek out one of two particular visa types – the O visa and P visa.

The O1-B and P1-B visas most directly apply to artistic individuals:

  • O1-B – For those with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in film and television
  • P1-B – For renowned entertainment groups

Start Early

If you have a trip or performance planned, filing early adds a buffer if you encounter potential complications during processing. The legal process of obtaining a visa involves multiple steps, including a thorough background check. On average, the entire O and P visa process takes about 2-4 months, including preparation of materials, filing and USCIS adjudication.  Premium processing guarantees adjudication in 15 days or less.

Getting Gigs

While in your home country, build your acting credits and experience. Talent companies look favorably on leading or major roles, especially if the film or play is commercial or done by a U.S. production company working abroad. If you feel you are ready to get a role overseas, utilize modern technology and audition remotely. Once you’re in the U.S., pilot season offers a great opportunity for work.

Look to Law Firms for Consultation

Law firms can be crucial in presenting the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with proof of your acting work. When you first get in contact with your lawyer, provide him or her with a portfolio of your acting credits, no matter how small. Any proof of your acting ability goes a long way to determine whether or not you receive a visa.

Law firms that specialize in immigration law are often well versed in the steps that will get you closer to your visa, including:

  • Paperwork preparation – Learn what documentation you need and get help filing it.
  • Planning – Get help navigating the visa process and planning your move.
  • Counseling – Receive personalized counseling to reach your goals.

If you are ready to obtain your visa, there is a law firm that can help.

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