Canada is poppin' with work for dancers. Our weak dollar plus provincial tax breaks for local hires has made Canada an attractive and affordable location for film and television productions. That being said, for many dancers making the move to the US is the ultimate dream. For those who are considering relocating, the first hurdle to get over is acquiring a US Visa.
Typically, dancers will be trying to get their hands on an 0-1 Visa. Quoting the USCIS an 0-1 Visa is “for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.” Making a strong application package to prove your extraordinary ability requires time, money, relevant high profile experience and people who will back you up. (I would also suggest a seasoned immigration lawyer.)
If you are thinking about applying for an 0-1 Visa I’d recommend starting to plan, collect evidence and financially prepare for it now. It will make the entire process much less daunting and will improve your chances of a successful application. Below are the basics of what you’ll need!
You’ll be asked to provide evidence from major jobs in your career and prove how your talent was integral to the project. Start to collect paystubs, contracts, photos, backstage passes, programs, tour books, media and interviews. This evidence should demonstrate your high level of talent and the quality of the jobs, with the financial proof to show for it. This evidence defends that you are of the top echelon of talent in the country.
Letters of Recommendation:
These letters are written by experts in your field who can vouch for your exceptional talent. Your chosen experts should have established careers and be well known in the industry. There are two kinds of letters you need to provide:
Subjective Letters- These letters are from people who you’ve worked with that will attest to your skill. For example: Choreographers, Executive Producers, Directors.
Objective Letters: These letters need to come from people who you have not worked with, but know of you based off your reputation and accomplishments. For example: Choreographers, Dance Organizations
Agent and Deal Memo:
You need to be signed to a US talent agency. For example: BLOC, MSA. The deal memo is often the most difficult piece of the Visa puzzle. You need to show you have a job ready and waiting for you in the US. Your employer should be a reputable company or person that will sign to confirm you will be working for them. You must provide specifics such as dates, pay and what responsibilities this job will entail. For example: Choreographers assistant, teacher at a studio, tour dancer, itinerary, how many hours per week, contract rates etc...
Money and an Immigration Lawyer:
The total for your Visa application can cost approximately $4200 US which equates to roughly $5560 CA. This quote includes USCIS, AGMA, Dance USA and lawyer fees. If you chose to go this alone, this number would drop but I highly suggest getting a reputable and experienced immigration lawyer to deal with your case. No one wants the headache or disappointment of a denied application. Kevin Levine is fantastic and incredibly knowledgeable with a solid track record for getting dancers their Visas. Find out more about his law office at www.horitsu.com. Another resource is his former associate, Rachel Wool, who now operates through D'Alessio Law Group (http://dlgimmigration.com/)
Feeling overwhelmed? Applying for your Visa means putting in work, but the earlier you start preparing the better off you’ll be!
If you have any questions about getting your Visa, come ask me at our next BOOKED workshop. The lecture and Q&A portion of the day covers everything from audition dos and don’ts to how to get an agent and much more. Join us November 26th at Dance Makers! Register at www.bookedworkshop.com/register