Spinning in the USA: The O-1 Visa for the Foreign EDM DJ

By Pablo G. Velez, Esq., Of Counsel

It goes without saying that EDM is a worldwide phenomenon that has created global celebrities out of DJs such as Tiesto, Deadmau5, David Guetta, and more. The demand for talented foreign DJs in the United States is without exception. However, in order for non-U.S. Citizens to lawfully play the music that keeps the crowd on its feet until the sun comes up and beyond, proper work authorization is required and can only be secured through a validly issued visa. The most ideal choice of visa is known as the “O-1B Extraordinary Ability in the Arts” Visa.

To apply for this visa, you do not have to be as world renowned as Martin Garrix or Calvin Harris to qualify for this category (but it does help). In order to obtain an O-1 visa, a DJ must display extraordinary talent and provide sufficient and appropriate documentation to support it. If the foreign talent has been recognized nationally or internationally by being nominated or being a recipient of an award such as a Grammy, or some other award on that level, the DJ is immediately qualified.

However, DJs who cannot provide such evidence (the other 99%) do have an alternative of displaying their achievements by formally documenting three (or more) of the following:

– Performance as leading role or a starring participant in a respected production, event, organization, or establishment – This is documented by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, contracts, testimonials and/or endorsements.

– Achievement recognized nationally or internationally – This is evidenced by reputable critical reviews from government agencies, major newspaper articles, trade journals, magazines, or other publications covering the client’s work.

– A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes – This can be demonstrated by rating or standing in the field, concert receipts, Billboard and other major industry charting, motion picture and/or television ratings.

– Received significant recognition for achievements from other prominent DJs or representatives of institutions with a household name – This is documented mainly through reference letters displaying the author’s credentials, authority, expertise and knowledge of the client’s achievements. A high salary or other significant income for services in relation to others DJs in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

In conclusion, it is advisable to create and maintain an updated portfolio of all professional achievements and contacting an experienced immigration attorney who can prepare the documentation to present to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval. Once an individual submits these required documents and receives visa approval, he can begin obtaining paid performances in the U.S.

This article was originally posted on By The Wavs.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted.



About the author

Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. - Vice-President, The Jacobson Firm, P.C. - Attorney Specializing in Entertainment, Sports, Esports, Fashion and Art Law. In particular, The Jacobson Firm, P.C. handles Trademarks, Copyrights, Contracts, Estate Planning, Music Business and Brand Development on behalf of creative talent and lifestyle brands.

Leave a Reply