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How to get work visa for UK production in the USA

Is US immigration crack down making it harder for UK nationals to apply for visas in production industry?

President Trump is clamping down on immigration. Trump’s clamp down on immigration doesn’t just affect illegal immigrants, it affects foreign workers too. UK Nationals in the production industry looking to work in Hollywood, are going to have a mountain to climb (or a wall to scale), to make it to the US.

One of the president’s bills proposes to slash immigration in half, so how is anyone going to travel to the US for work? We at Beast video production company London have had a look at exactly what this means for those looking for a temporary work visa for the US. Nipping over to Hollywood to star in a breakthrough role might not be as easy as it was last year.

Obtaining a visa to work in the production industry in the US

Just like he said, the Trump administration is starting to impose restrictions on foreign worker visas. There’s a load of policy changes that are under consideration, affecting how easy it is to obtain a worker visa in the US. These new policies are supposed to prioritise American workers over foreign workers, be it jobs, wage or well-being.


                 “I” classification visa

If you are to be working in the production industry in the US as a writer for example, you will need to obtain an “I” classification visa. These visas will be granted if the material being filmed will be used to distribute information or news. The term “media” includes members of the press, film or radio who are essential to the function. Someone “essential to the function” could be film crew, actors, editors, producers and directors. You will need to prove that your film or video production is going to be informative in nature. So, if Beast were to send out a video content production team to create some digital content in the US, we would need to be able to prove that it was going to be informative.

                  “O” classification visa

There is a different type of visa you can obtain if you are in the entertainment industry. These are O-1 and O-2 visas. An O-1 visa is for those who have an “extraordinary ability”, so, those who have achieved extraordinary things in TV or film. These will be people like your film and TV stars who have hit the big time in the entertainment industry.

An O-2 visa is for those accompanying a member of the industry to specifically assist them. To qualify for this, you would need be integral to the performance or the production. In other words, if they can’t do it without you, you will qualify.

                 “P” classification visa

These visas are for artists and entertainers (individuals or groups), who are going to perform, teach or coach in the US. These visas tend to rely on you providing something culturally unique or for a specific event only. This might be more relevant if you are an actor and you haven’t quire reached Judi Dench “national treasure” status yet.

You’ll probably need a bit of help figuring out which category you fall into when applying for a visa. So, it’s best to get some advice before you get disheartened over failed visa applications. If you are working for an agent, they can apply for most of these on your behalf, which cuts down on the paperwork for you.


What does this mean for those who want to work in the film industry in the US

Fortunately, most of Trump’s immigration cuts seem to be aimed at those looking for permanent status in the US. This will mainly be problematic for those looking to achieve coveted “Green Card status”. If you are looking to work in the production industry in the US, you will not need a Green Card as the work you will doing will not be permanent. It will either be on a temporary basis for a specific employer, or for a particular project with an end date.

Trump’s implementation of stricter rules and more in depth vetting of visa applicants will probably come into play. It doesn’t mean that you won’t get a visa, but it does mean that the process will be slowed. It may take longer for your visa application to be processed as visa applicants are being heavily scrutinised.

Advice from Beast London

What is our advice at Beast video production company UK? Make sure you leave plenty of time. Don’t leave your visa application until the last minute, only for it to be declined and leave you sitting in an embassy for hours on end pleading your case. The US film and production industry isn’t going to thank you when they need their director and you are holed up somewhere, filling in yet another form.

Get a US partner to help you fulfil many of the key roles and overcome a lot of paperwork by only bringing in key personnel.

Take advice from someone who knows what they are talking about, not that we don’t know what we are talking about, but we are certainly no experts on visa applications although we do have a US office. Our US office allows us to work remotely with our crew already in the US and also have many of the secondary rolls like locations manager buttoned down. Speak to someone who knows all the ins and outs of applying for US visas; there is no shame in asking for help on this.

Do your research and figure out all the documentation you need when applying for your visa and to make your visa application successful. Not adhering to the guidelines is only going to delay the process, so providing information and proof will help the process along. We know there are a lot of hoops to jump through, but it will all be worth it when you have landed your dream job in the US in the production industry, and you are producing epic digital content.