Due to the rise of content creators and social media influencers in the job market, there have been many queries and confusion regarding the legality of stay in the US as well as options for work or permanent status in the US. US immigration policy has begun considering this type of work as a legitimate work area and basis for employment authorization, as well as permanent residency.
The B2 (visit visa) does allow individuals to enter the US and remain for up to six months, however, there cannot be any type of paid work. Even working for a company in a different country while remaining in the US can be considered a violation of the visit visa. Therefore, if someone wishes to work in the US in these areas, other work visas should be considered.
There are three main work visa options for online content creators and social media influencers – the O-1B visa, I visa and the EB-1A. The O-1B visa or “talent visa” is for those with extraordinary ability looking to temporarily live and work in the US. This visa requires that the applicant must show a high level of achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. This means being able to show that they are prominent, renowned, leading or well-known in what they do. In this field it would mean showing this through brand ambassadorships and having a high online following consistently earning them elevated views, likes or shares. USCIS will also look for high revenues and world wide recognition, among other factors. Marketing campaigns, contracts and work offers in the US will also be considered.
The I visa was traditionally for foreign media workers. However, unlike the O-1B, the content must be newsworthy and informational in nature and cannot be used solely for a commercial or entertainment purpose. The approval of this status would be difficult unless there was a news angle involved and no promotion of a particular brand or product.
The permanent work visa is the EB-1A visa is for those with extraordinary ability. It does carry a higher standard of “extraordinary” than the O-1B does, so it must be evaluated carefully. This is reserved for the top people in the field, such as those in atypical jobs that involve creative decision-making, as well fulfilling the O-1B requirements.