Viva La Visa – Let’s Go USA


Whether it’s pilot season, Hollywood movies or Broadway musicals that you want to make your mark, an O-1 non-immigrant visa is essential.

Understandably many British performers are keen to try their luck on the other side of the pond. A lucky few will be cast in American shows and have their visas taken care of by the production team, but for performers who want to experience the wide range of casting opportunities the US has to offer, an O-1 visa is required.

You could try and sneak in through Mexico before the wall is built, but it’s probably not the best idea if you’re serious about your career…

Here at Mark Summers, we think the best service and advice available is through Viva La Visa, based in London and Suffolk. They have helped artists across the board- from major stars to young hopefuls- fulfil their US visa needs. And they are always available to answer any queries and concerns, with absolutely no obligation.

We fired a few pertinent questions at Viva La Visa about the overall process because if you’re anything like us, paperwork is your least favourite part of the job.

Q & A with Viva La Visa

Q. At Mark Summers Casting & Management we work mainly with actors, dancers and choreographers. Would the requirements be the same for these artists for the O-1 visa?

A. Requirements always vary on a case-by-case basis, however the standard requirements are usually the same.

Q.The visa requirement of ‘extraordinary achievement’ suggests a high UK profile is necessary to qualify? Could you expand on how this actually translates into reality?

A.There is a hierarchy of what’s considered most valuable:

  1. Awards
  2. Press
  3. Letters of recommendation from note worthy names, ie: Directors, producers, casting directors, other actors you have worked with.

Q. From start to finish how long does the process usually take? Once it is approved, how long will it last and is renewal possible?

A. P petitions (Groups) can last for up to 1 year, O petitions (Solo talent) can last for up to 3. We would say that 6 weeks is a good lead time to get everything sorted, however if you want to save yourself quite a bit of money give yourself a few months lead time and you can save around £1000 on the filing fees.

Q. How much will the O-1 visa cost (approx)?

A.We would have to quote per client, but as a guideline I would say between £6000 and £12,000 depending on circumstances.

Q. If denied initially, can one keep applying?

A. It depends on the type of denial, but usually you can apply again.

Q. Are there any point blank exclusions, like for a criminal record? Or a caution for drugs possession?

A. Criminal records and cautions do complicate things greatly, especially if it’s a recent offence. You could be told by the embassy that you’re ineligible and need to re-apply in 12 months, or your visa may be accepted but it could take around 6 months to process instead of the average 5 days. We have in our time learnt how to best handle these scenarios.

Q. Is it harder now with the current political US climate?

A. Things are certainly changing. For example, there’s a list of countries that if you’ve visited you may be denied and ESTA. It also means you may require further questioning at your embassy interview. There is currently a system in place where, if you were renewing your visa you could do this via post, assuming you meet the criteria. However there are now plans in place for this to be abolished so everyone will have to go to an embassy interview in person.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

A. If you have any queries at all, please just reach out to us! Even if you think you wouldn’t be eligible.


Viva La Visa can be reached at:
6 Church Row, Wandsworth Plain, London, SW18 1ES
Tel: +44 (0) 208 874 0022


By Clea Myers
Follow me on Twitter @Camtweak

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