Do You Want to Work in the Fashion Industry in the US? It’s Possible!

Those who know me probably have already realized that nothing is impossible is my personal mantra and that fashion is my great passion.

I decided to write this post as numerous people have asked me how to build a fashion career in the United States. It is really possible and you can start your American dream very soon. How?

One of the options to work in the US is to obtain an O-1 visa. A common misconception is that this type of visa is designed only for artists. It is not true at all… There are many career paths within the fashion business (…and I’m trying to introduce you to them through the #FashionCareerSeries project on this blog), and an individual with any job title within the industry may be eligible for the O-1 visa as long as he or she is a person of extraordinary ability; for example, a fashion stylist who worked on major brands’ campaigns; a fashion history professor who lectured at top universities; an accomplished trend forecaster; a successful graphic designer… You name it. Moreover, his or her work can be distinguished either on a domestic or an international level.

So what does it really mean to be a person of extraordinary ability? You need to win an Oscar, a Nobel Prize or a Grammy (once I say that people start laughing… or crying), but don’t worry – if you are not among individuals who worked so hard and were lucky enough to get these prestigious awards, you may still qualify as long as you have had significant achievements in your field of endeavor.

Those of you working in the business, legal or academic side of fashion must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

On the other hand, those of you whose job responsibilities are more on the artistic side must meet at least three out of the following criteria:

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements
  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
  • Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements
  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence

Below I also include a brief summary of FAQ regarding the O-1 visas:

  • Do I need an employer?

Not necessarily. Either an employer can file the petition for you, or you may have an agent who will be representing you.

  • How long does it take to get the O-1 visa?

The processing time varies, but usually it takes a couple of weeks to a couple of months; however, if you opt for premium processing and pay a fee of $1,225 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency will review your application within 15 calendar days.

  • Do I have to be in the US to file the application?

No, you don’t.

  • Is there a minimum salary I need to make?

No, there isn’t.

  • How much is the application fee?

$460, excluding attorney fees. Again, if you want to have your application reviewed faster, you need to pay an additional fee of $1,225 to the USCIS.

  • How long is the visa issued for?

3 years, and then you may renew it in increments of up to 1 year.

  • What documents do I need to submit with the application?

Your resume, any previous immigration documents you may have, USCIS form I-129, USCIS form I-907 (if you choose the premium processing option), petitioner letter of support, letters of recommendation, deal memos, and supporting evidence. But don’t worry… an attorney can work with you to prepare all of these documents.

If you have more questions or if you would like to schedule a free consultation to discuss whether you qualify for such a visa, please feel free to contact me at annaradke@annaradke.com.

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