• Advocacy, Education

Freelancers and Immigration

Recently I wrote a letter of support for a friend and fellow freelancer seeking a visa to work in this country. With no "freelance visa," freelancers, ineligible for a regular employer sponsorship, must do some fancy tapdancing around if they want to work in the US. This outdated employment classification (along with politics of course) leads to some very creative independent people including chefs, musicians, and actors being denied entry to the US. One option, according to the site, is to apply for an "O-1 Visa." This is available to people who can demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement" in their field, whether science, education, arts, business or athletics. The O-1 makes it possible to work for more than one employer. In other cases, workers who are being paid as independent contractors could form their own companies and sponsor themselves for H1-B temporary work visas (this won't work for green cards.) However, if you have an ordinary H1-B it is illegal to work as an independent contractor for companies other than the one that sponsored you. It's difficult for existing immigration laws to properly govern the mobile independent workforce. This article gives the example of an independent contractor working for a US company overseas, telecommuting, who then comes to the US and runs afoul of the law; he becomes a foreign-born worker working for a US company, in the US, without a visa! Or take the young British man I met last year in Laos; he was traveling around the world for a year with his laptop, defraying the costs by doing some freelance graphic design for a company back home. Technically this was against the law in some of the countries where he was visiting.

Freelancers Union Creating a better future for all independent workers across the United States.

View Website