The Very Versatile O-1 Visa! 

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Many of our clients wish to work as independent contractors and consultants on a self-employed basis. They do not wish to be tied down to one employer. The O-1 regulations provide for this scenario by allowing an “agent” to sponsor the O-1 applicant. The O-1 applicant then has a good amount of freedom. We have many years of experience with this type of case and can provide an agent with minimal liability. The agent regulations allow for several options. You can have a full time employer or talent agency sponsor you and act as your manager. You have an exclusive representation agreement with this agency. This is a popular option for models. In this scenario, only one contract is needed, between the employer or agency and the applicant. An itinerary, or schedule of engagements, is also needed.  

Another option is to use an agent purely for immigration purposes, to serve as your sponsor or petitioner. The agent’s role is a much more limited one in this scenario, which allows the O-1 applicant maximum flexibility. However, here the applicant must provide agreements (“letters of intent”) with the various entities for whom she plans to work, as well as an itinerary.  

Of course, the straightforward option is for the applicant to be sponsored by a regular employer and just work for that employer.  This is a good way to get your initial O-1 visa. 

Finally, the O-1 applicant can set up their own corporation and be sponsored by the corporation. This is a more challenging route that must be carefully reviewed with the attorney, but it is feasible under the right circumstances. This option is successfully implemented by entrepreneurs and investors. 

As always, it is crucial to have a good strategy in place from the outset – review the client’s history and materials, narrow the O-1 field she will work in, see what evidence she can obtain and show that she has solid work lined up. Our team of lawyers, paralegals, writers, and legal assistants includes native Japanese, Mandarin, Italian, Portuguese and Korean speakers.  Contact us at or