O-1B Approval with 2 Unrelated Professional Titles: Performer and Photographer

Within the arts, it is sometimes difficult to stay within one profession.  Sometimes as a multidisciplinary artist, and you work on multiple different types of artistic mediums. Therefore, it is very common for a photographer to also do filmwork. Or for a performer to also serve as an influencer.

It is entirely possible to file an O-1 petition with multiple professional titles. Yao Law Group has experience filing O-1 petitions with 2 and sometimes 3 professional titles.

Recently, we filed an O-1B extension petition as a Performer and a Photographer. Her underlying O-1 was filed just as a Performer.

Filing an O-1 with 2 concurrent titles is similar to filing an O-1 with 1 professional title. Included in the petition is evidence for both professional titles and future work contracts for both professional titles.

For extension cases, it is important to not modify the underlying petition. This is quite important since the Yates memo says that officers need to defer to prior approvals unless there is material change in the petition.

Therefore the challenge with this petition was proving that adding the discipline of photography to the petition does not materially alter the underlying petition which just included performing.

In this case, I was able to argue that the client was an expert, both in performance, and what I called performative photography. I argued that performative photography was an extension of performance, the art of performing with the photographic medium. In the petition we included well known examples of photographers that engaged in performative photography,  such as Cindy Sherman. Cindy Sherman is a female photographer, who I argued, performs for the camera. Her subject matter for her photographs is herself, she dresses up as different representations of herself, of the female mind or the female body, and photographs herself. In my case, my client did the same thing. And she also photographed performers in their performance states. So again, I was able to frame her photography, photographic work within the realm of performance. And I was able to support this with evidentiary support of examples of successful photographers who already do this, who see themselves as performative photographers. I argued in this client’s case that she was performing for the camera, but within a still image

My research supported the connections that we were making between performance and photography.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that your attorney is really aware of these nuances, because that will be the difference between an approval and Request for Further Evidence (RFE).



Elektra Yao is the managing attorney and founder of Yao Law Group. She loves working with artists and is a recognized leader for O-1 visas. Visit yaolawgroup.com for more information.

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