You’re an Artist and you have your O1 visa for the next three years. You made the big move and are really ready to take off with your career in the US. But, you just received an email from your sponsor saying that business is really going bad and the company is closing, what do you do?
A very conservative approach will be to go out and find a new sponsor as soon as possible. The next step will be to switch your visa over to that new sponsor and file a Change of Sponsor O1 petition. Once the petition is approved you have successfully switched your status over to the new sponsor, but will still have to have the visa re-issued at the US Consulate in your respective country.
That is the clear cut strategy if your O1 is tied to a particular production and you are “employed” by the company. If the company goes out of business then your O1 visa has been automatically revoked as you are no longer “employed” by that particular company. But, let’s take a closer look at another common situation. For example, what if you are an Actor and your visa is with an Agent or Manager and that company closes. Is your current O1 visa still valid? YES it is!
The section of the law that specifically discusses this issue in the Federal Regulations regarding Automatic Revocation of an approved O1 visa petition states: The approval of an unexpired petition is automatically revoked if the petitioner, or the named employer in a petition filed by an agent, goes out of business, files a written withdrawal of the petition, or notifies the Service that the beneficiary is no longer employed by the petitioner. 8 CFR §214.2(o)(8)(ii).
So what does this mean? In a very typical situation where an Artists’ O1 visa petition is filed by an “Agent” acting on behalf of multiple production companies (employers) the O1 visa is not automatically revoked even if the Agent closes his/her business. This is true because the Agent is not the employer, and as long as the current and future production work remains valid then the visa remains valid. However, if the named employers in the petition filed by an Agent go out of business then the O1 visa is possibly automatically revoked.
As always if you are going through a similar situation make sure to immediately discuss the matter with a qualified immigration attorney.