Does Your U.S. Agent Count as an Employer Under the Terms of Your O Visa? A California Immigration Attorney Weighs In.

You are considering applying for an O-1 visa, but there is just one problem: you do not have a U.S. employer. However, if you are an actor, athlete, or other talented professional who is being sponsored by an agent, you may be able to claim your agent as your employer for the purposes of your O visa.

Under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations, a U.S. agent can serve many functions as a beneficiary’s sponsor. An agent may be the actual employer, someone who is authorized by the employer to act in the employer’s place, or the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary.

In cases where an agent is performing the function of an employer, the I-129 petition filed by the agent must include:

  • A contractual agreement outlining the wage offered as well as the terms and conditions of employment between the agent and the beneficiary. It is not necessary to submit a contract between the petitioner and the companies or individuals that will ultimately use the petitioner’s services.
  • A description of the work relationship between the petitioner and the agent. The USCIS will determine whether your agent counts as an employer based on your working relationship and how much influence your agent has over your work. If the USCIS finds that you have relinquished a certain degree of control over your work to the agent, then the agent may be performing the function of an employer.
  • A detailed itinerary describing the dates and locations of work. If the petitioner is required to work in more than one location, the agent should indicate what type of work the beneficiary will be engaged in at each setting and when this work will take place.