Oakhurst Immigration Law services the unique and varied work authorization requirements of foreign nationals with extraordinary skills and the employers that need them in the O-1 visa category. In general, our process and goal seek to file petitions that have the longest validity period possible for the beneficiary and employment flexibility, including working with agents to present an itinerary with multiple businesses and employers. The flexibility of the O-1 visa petition greatly depends on whether a direct employer or agent is filing the petition. If a direct employer in the United States or abroad is filing through a U.S. agent, the good news is that the petition might not require an itinerary. In addition, this straight through process avoids a request for evidence due to USCIS needing clarification on an agent/manager relationship.
The bad news for straightforward direct employers for beneficiary O-1 petitions is the visa application will likely not support work outside of the relationship between the O-1 employer and the O-1 beneficiary. In these circumstances, it may be more appropriate for the beneficiary to pursue a concurrent O-1 visa petition, meaning a whole separate I-129 petition to support the work to be done outside of the original relationship.
O-1 visas are one of the few nonimmigrant visas that permit a foreign national to have more than one visa at the same time. It is perfectly permissible under the regulations for a beneficiary to have an O-1 with a direct employer with traditional terms of employment and then negotiate another contract with an agent to pursue projects such as podcasts, self-produced YouTube content, sponsorships, and other projects.
Concurrent employment for O-1 visas must be permitted by all the parties involved as USCIS will not, on purpose, allow the contract a previous O-1 was approved on to be breached by a new concurrent O-1 visa petition. The contracts and deal memos associated with O-1 applications are routinely subject to close scrutiny by USCIS and are commonly the reason USCIS issues requests for evidence that have nothing to do with the extraordinary ability of the visa applicant.
In order to avoid this request for evidence, it is best practice for proper permission to be explained in the support letter of the petition and supported by evidence. The supporting evidence should include letters from the employer of any previous that expressly gives permission to the concurrent activities of the O-1 applicant, especially if the contract the petition was based on calls for exclusivity. In addition, the consultation or advisory opinion included with the concurrent employment should state and explain that the new activities are supported in addition to the existing employment in the previous visa.
For more information and consultation on concurrent O-1 visas, please do not hesitate to contact our office for more information.