How do international celebrities get U.S. visas?

New York
Written by Nigel Simpkins

International celebrity is an increasingly common phenomenon when it comes to artists of any stripe. The proliferation of social media platforms and ‘viral’ content has only served to enshrine the movements of celebrities in our day-to-day lives – not just on the radio and silver screen, but also in terms of their ‘candid’ moments and off-script thoughts.

The sheer magnetism of celebrity culture has been effectively explained recently by the drama surrounding the release of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ – an American film, the quality of which has been utterly overshadowed by tales of on-set affairs and disintegrating relationships that have captivated the world.

But the nature of international celebrity is just that: international. Don’t Worry Darling is an American production with two British celebrities in leading roles and another in a supporting role. This underpins a wider phenomenon in film, art, and music, of UK artists making the (sometimes permanent) move to the US to work. Why does this happen, and how?

Why Do UK Artists Move to the US?

There are countless examples of artists from the UK upping sticks and moving to the United States for their work. This is particularly true within the film industry, as leading actors in the form of Daniel Craig, Benedict Cumberbatch, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega make the move to LA. It is also true of successful writers, with the likes of Armando Iannucci and Christopher Nolan switching the UK to the US.

Whatever the industry, it is undoubtedly true that America’s is larger than the UK’s. With film, Hollywood is an ecosystem of its own, with more opportunities and more money than London. The same can be said of the music industry, where British artists and bands move to ‘break America’ and multiply their cultural capital in the process. But how can this be done so easily, when American immigration laws are so complicated?

What is an Artist Visa?

If ever you plan to emigrate to the United States, you will need a visa to do so. This is the case for artists just as it is for workers of any other kind – but the US has stringent criteria for accepting immigration visas. Artists might not usually fulfil these criteria, where earnings and contributions to STEM fields are preferred. However, there are visas designed specifically for artists, that allow them to apply for residence due to their extraordinary artistic ability.

The Process of Moving to the US

For individual celebrities, the best visa to use for this purpose is the O-1 B visa – which demands that applicants prove themselves to be extraordinary achievers in their creative industry. This can be shored up with evidence of acclaim or celebrity on a national or international level. An O-1 B visa must also be petitioned by an employer or management team; a celebrity cannot advocate for themselves alone as a self-employed worker.