CASE TYPE: O-1B VISA
Assisting the Italian creative duo navigate the O-1B process in the midst of COVID.
Obtain O-1B visas for Italian creative duo, Scandebergs.
O-1B visas granted for both artists, including a successful expedite at the US Embassy in London.
In September 2019 I had the pleasure of hosting a series of seminars on the O-1B visa in London. It was there that I met Scandebergs, the Italian creative duo of Alberto Albanese and Stefano Colombini.
It is difficult to reduce Scandebergs’ work to a single medium, rather, it is at the intersection of Fashion, Art and Photography. They have shot commercial campaigns for the world’s most renowned brands, including Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Nike and Versace. They have profiled world-renowned artists like Marina Abramovic. Their work has been exhibited in art galleries as well as on the cover of Vogue and Time Magazine, and they have been honored by British Fashion Council as one of the most innovative young creatives in the world.
The O-1B Visa - An Overview
The O-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts. It allows individuals to work in the United States on a temporary basis in their field of expertise.
To be eligible for an O-1B visa, an individual must demonstrate that they have extraordinary ability in the arts, which is defined as a high level of achievement demonstrated by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered. This can be demonstrated by satisfying three of the criteria below.
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about you in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators of 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 you are engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’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.
For a more detailed overview, please visit our O-1B guide.
In addition to demonstrating extraordinary ability, individuals applying for an O-1B visa must also have a job offer from a U.S. employer and must be coming to the United States to work in their field of expertise.
The O-1B visa is typically granted for a period of up to three years, with the possibility of extension. It allows the holder to work and live in the United States while they are engaged in their work. The O-1B visa does not lead to permanent residence, but individuals with an O-1B visa may be able to apply for a green card if they meet certain requirements.
It was clear within minutes of our meeting that the duo was highly qualified for the O-1B. The focus, then, turned to implementing the proper strategy to obtain the visa and allow the pair to work freely in the United States.
The O-1B visa carries a maximum validity of 3 years, with unlimited renewals. However, in order to secure the 3 year term an applicant must show 3 years worth of work at the time of filing. For many creative professionals it is often challenging to contemplate and secure work so far in advance. In the case of Scandebergs much of our initial strategy involved consulting the duo on best practices in obtaining longer term employment agreements. Also, given the caliber of their employers, there was an emphasis on effectively communicating, and remaining in compliance with, the intricacies of USCIS regulations.
When we met in September 2019, Scandebergs were in no particular rush to enter the US. They were very busy working with clients in Europe and expected to enter the US on their O-1B visas within 6 months or so. Along the way, COVID struck and our case processing was temporarily put on hold. By summer 2020, the pair were finally ready to file. They opted for regular processing (vs premium processing). Alberto’s case was approved by USCIS within 5 weeks and Stefano’s within 8 weeks.
Typically, once a client abroad obtains O-1 approval from USCIS, they then attend an interview at a US consulate or embassy to obtain a visa. However, with the pandemic came travel bans and closures of US embassies and consulates worldwide. When they finally reopened there were severe backlogs, causing massive delays. Alberto and Stefano were caught in the middle of this gridlock and even had an appointment canceled by the embassy. When they were subsequently approached by a client to shoot a high profile job on short notice, we assisted them in expediting their visa appointment. We were successful and Scandebergs received their O-1 visas at the US Embassy in London.
The duo continue to put out amazing work in both Europe and the US. You can see their creations at scandebergs.com and on IG @scandebergs.