Can A Social Media Influencer Apply for A Green Card?

In recent years Social Media Influencers have played an essential role in marketing strategies for companies and organizations around the world. In fact, a 2017 study found that Instagram alone amassed 12.9 million Brand Sponsored Post by Social Media Influencers. Across all social media platforms, the estimated market opportunity is nearly $1.7 billion. This means that the there are nearly $1.7 billion in jobs available for social media influencers. Nearly 70% of marketing departments planned on increasing their social media influencer marketing budget in the 2018 fiscal year.  This growing influence and demand for Social Media Influencers have compelled U.S. immigration policy to take notice of the role of social media influencers as a profession worthy of approval in visas and green card cases.

Consequently, a social media influencer wanting to take their talents to the U.S. can earn a visa through the O-1B track and permanent residency (green card) through the EB-1A track. This article will walk you through the EB-1A route. For details about the O-1B route check out “How Can A Social Media Influencer Apply For A US Visa?

How Do “Social Media Influencers” Fulfill The EB-1A Category

EB-1A provides a more permanent option for Social Media Influencers interested in living and working in the United States. Unlike the O-1B visa, the EB-1A visa allows the applicant to obtain permanent residency in the U.S., commonly known as a green card.  As a result, the EB-1A category carries a much higher “extraordinary ability” standard than the O-1B visa. For this reason, it is important for the applicant to evaluate their experience and accomplishments before applying for an EB-1A.  If the applicant feels that their experience does not reach the level of this higher standard. they should consider renewing their O-1B to grow their body of work before applying for a green card.

EB-1A green card category, otherwise known as an extraordinary ability green card, allows individuals to work within the United States as permanent residents.  This means that you will have the right to stay in the U.S. indefinitely, provided you do not engage in deportation action. Common forms of deportation action are convictions of certain crimes, committing fraud, and failing to report address changes.  It is also important to note that you must abide by the time requirement. This means you must stay inside the U.S. for 6 months out of the year. There have been instances where someone was rejected at the border for being out of the U.S. for more than 6 months.  

Extraordinary abilities include but are not limited to atypical jobs that involve creative decision-making. Social Media Influencers fit the “extraordinary ability” umbrella through brand ambassadorships and/or by having a high following that consistently earns you high views or likes. The argument can be made that brand ambassadorships may satisfy the extraordinary ability category where it can be shown that the influencer contribution is valuable and essential to the promotion to the brand.  Another argument can be made that a high number of views, likes or shares is evidence that the influencers are unique in comparison to peers within the field.

How to Prepare for Your EB-1A Visa?

While your attorney will file your actual petition, preparing your case requires your full cooperation. Unlike the O-1B, the EB-1A does not require a job offer but does require the applicant to fulfill three of ten requirements instead of three of six requirements. It is essential that a social media influencer applying for an EB-1A visa prepares biographical documents such as a birth certificate, passport, and previous visas.  Here is some of the evidence you should consider collecting:

  • Documents concerning the nature of your Brand Ambassadorships
  • Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in major online, professional, or major trade publication
  • Documents evidencing commercial success which would include posts, blogs or videos with your highest views, likes, shares, and downloads
  • Evidence of press articles you’ve received evidencing your achievements, including red carpet photos, celebrity/editorial profiles, reviews, interviews, and press releases in major print or online publications
  • Evidence of any art exhibitions, showcases or film festivals your work was displayed in
  • Pay statements evidencing your high pay.  If you are a Brand Ambassador, you should prepare pay stubs that prove that you have earned a high salary for your work.  If you are a YouTuber who is paid monthly by YouTube, you should prepare pay stubs that evidence the amount you are paid by the platform monthly
  • A list of fellow Social Media Influencer, managers, critics, industry executives, or representatives from the brands that you have worked for as a Brand Ambassador.  These persons should be able to attest to your past work and how essential your work has been to their success. Be sure to hold off on drafting any letters or asking these individuals for a letter prior to meeting with your consulting attorney, as they may have a specific and approach to this criteria.  
  • Evidence of instances where you served a judge for the work of your peers.  An example of this is where you have been on a judges panel at a major social media competition or where you were a gatekeeper for an organization.
  • Evidence of any awards you have received from your work as a social media influencer
  • Deal memos that discuss work you will do in the future.  You can procure these memos from US brands or stations you plan to work with.

What Are My Next Steps?

Although public opinion is changing on immigration and we’re seeing shifting attitudes in international immigration policy, it is essential to understand that the Social Media Influencer profession is relatively new. Consequently, no hard and fast rule will guarantee the securing of a green card.  As a result, it is vital that you submit your very best case. Hiring an experienced immigration attorney who has secured EB-1 green cards is crucial in giving yourself the best shot in obtaining your visa. D’Alessio Law Group is a leader in helping social media influencers take their work and careers to new heights in the U.S so feel free to set up a consultation with us at 310-909-3934.  Be sure to check out our other professional based articles such as, “How Do I Get A Chef Visa.”

Disclaimer: The information included in this blog posts is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.  You should contact your attorney to obtain advice concerning any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this blog or any of the links contained do not create an attorney-client relationship between D’Alessio Law Group and the use user or browser.  The opinions expressed at or through this post are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

 

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