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International Productions

If you are located outside of the United States and you want to film in New York City, please read the information below. This information is also available in multiple languages.

What does the Film Office offer to international production companies?

We offer permits, free police assistance, and free public locations. We also offer free interpretation services if you prefer to speak to us in a language other than English. We suggest that you review the material below and contact us at least one month in advance of your trip to ensure your experience is as hassle-free and pleasant as possible.

Our permit coordinators will work with you to ensure that your foreign insurance carrier meets our requirements, that your permits are available to you when you need them, and that even though you may not be here in town, that you have the same access to New York City locations and services that we offer all filmmakers. Our commitment to serving you--our customers and guests--with all the benefits that the New York City production community and the city has to offer is a top priority. Learn more about the permitting process and insurance requirements.

Step One: Petition for Worker Status

You may need to apply for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa. Two federal agencies oversee visas: the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

U.S. Department of State

If your film project is of commercial or entertainment value, the appropriate employment-based O-, P- or H-type visa will be required and a petition, form I-129 must be filed and approved with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to you applying for the visa. (If you are filming to disseminate information or news, you may qualify for an I-type visa.) You can use the U.S. government’s Visa Wizard to find out which type of visa is right for you. It can take a long time to obtain a visa, so file your form I-129 as soon as possible.

Obtain Form I-129: Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

You may need to obtain a consultation letter from an entertainment union or guild that covers the position, if you are seeking an O- or P-type visa. A list of those organizations, what positions they cover, and contact information is available on the USCIS website.

If USCIS approves your application, it will send you a notice of approval, Form I-797. Save this form for the visa application process.

Step Two: Apply to the U.S. Department of State for Temporary Worker Visa

Applicants for temporary work visas should apply at the American Embassy or Consulate Office in the region of their place of permanent residence.

Each applicant for a temporary worker visa must pay a nonrefundable application fee and submit and/or present:

  • Form I-797 - Notice of Approval, sent by USCIS.
  • Immigrant Visa Application Form DS-160.
  • Photo: You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo to your visa interview in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements).
  • Additional Documentation May Be RequiredReview the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
    • The purpose of your trip,
    • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
    • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.

Step Three: Bringing Equipment into the U.S.

There are two ways to bring equipment into the United States:

ATA Carnet - Essentially a passport for your equipment. Over 75 countries are part of the Carnet agreement, which will save you time in entering and exiting the U.S. Upon entry you will need to leave a deposit against the value of the equipment, which is refunded when you leave. For more information and a list of ATA Carnet signatory countries, visit the United States Council for International Business website Once you have determined that your country is an ATA Carnet agreement country, you will need to get in touch with the National Guaranteeing Association in your country of origin. Do not apply for a carnet in the U.S.

Temporary Importation Entry (T.I.E.) - For productions coming from non-ATA Carnet countries, you will need to hire a U.S. Customs Broker, who is licensed by the U.S Department of the Treasury, to put together a Temporary Importation Entry package. Customs Brokers are the only people who can do this.

Every point of entry is managed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security and has an entry point office. The Field Operations Office for all New York City area entry points can be contacted at +1 646-733-3100 and is open from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST.

Regardless of whether you bring equipment in under ATA Carnet or T.I.E., all entry points will inspect and verify that the equipment is safe by x-ray, personal inspection and other means. Notify them ahead of time when you will be arriving by calling the field office at +1 646-733-3100. Be prepared with an inventory list of the equipment you are bringing into the country. Be patient: thorough inspection is compulsory and can take some time. Your cooperation is required and patience is appreciated.

Helpful Tips

Hiring an immigration attorney can help you to manage the process. An attorney can simplify the process and can decrease the chance of visa/entry denial and other complications. These professionals know the process back to front and can make filing much easier, especially when there are many people applying for visas.

Setting up a U.S. production company can also make the process easier, as business transfer visas can be easier to obtain than other types of visas. This option may not be beneficial to all productions. Depending on how much production you do in New York City or the United States, it could be a viable option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click a topic, or press the enter key on a topic, to reveal its answer.

Who can answer my questions about petitioning to work temporarily in the U.S. as a non-immigrant?

The USCIS can answer questions about procedures for petitioning to work temporarily in the U.S. as a non-immigrant, qualifications for various visa classifications, and conditions and limitations on employment to the USCIS. For more information about working in the United States, please visit USCIS’s website.

If I have questions about the visa application process, who can I call for clarification?

You should direct your questions about the visa application process to the American Consular Office in your country. You can find a directory of offices on the U.S. Embassy webpage.

Does a visa guarantee entry to the United States?

A visa by itself doesn’t authorize entry to the U.S. The Directorate of Border and Transportation Security in the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to deny admission to the U.S. See the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ webpage for more information.

How long is a temporary work visa valid?

Entry and the length of authorized stay within the United States are determined by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the port-of-entry each time you travel. Consular officials cannot make this determination at the time of application. See the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ webpage for more information.

Where is the length of visa validity noted?

On the admission stamp or paper Form I-94, the U.S. immigration inspector records either an admitted-until date or "D/S" (duration of status). If your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 contains a specific date, then that is the date by which you must leave the United States. If you have D/S on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, you may remain in the United States as long as you continue your qualifying employment. The admitted-until date or D/S notation, shown on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 is the official record of your authorized length of stay in the United States. You cannot use the visa expiration date in determining or referring to your permitted length of stay in the United States. For more information, see the U.S. Department of State’s webpage What the Visa Expiration Date Means.

Can I stay in the country past the date of my I-94 validity?

If you wish to stay beyond the time indicated on your Form I-94, you must file a request Form I-539, Application to Extend Status. The USCIS will make a decision to grant or deny your request.

Can I bring my spouse and children into the United States on a temporary non-immigrant visa?

If you have an O-, P-, H-, or I-type visa, your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may be eligible to apply for a visa (under an O-3-type, P-4, H-4, or I-type visa). For more information, visit the USCIS website and read the section “Spouses and Children Seeking Dependent Nonimmigrant Classification.”

Types of Visas

You can use the U.S. government’s Visa Wizard to find out which type of visa is right for you. Here are some categories that commonly apply to individuals working in the film and television industry.

O-1B - for Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry (actors, directors, producers, other singular professionals known for their craft). To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, you must demonstrate extraordinary achievement. This is evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that you are recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field. For detailed information on how USCIS evaluates evidence to determine O-1B eligibility, including examples and considerations, see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 2, Part M, Chapter E and Appendix: Satisfying the O-1B Evidentiary Requirements.

O-2 - Persons accompanying solely to assist an O-1 nonimmigrant worker, such as supporting cast and crew (actors, assistant directors, crew who are essential or have been attached to O-1 talent). You will need to provide evidence to establish your current essentiality, critical skills, and experience with the O-1 beneficiary and that you have substantial experience performing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1.

In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence should establish that significant production, including pre- and post-production, has taken place outside the United States and will take place inside the United States, and that your continuing participation is essential to the successful completion of the production.

P1-BInternationally recognized entertainers or members of internationally recognized entertainment groups.

P-2Individual performer or part of a group entering to perform under a reciprocal exchange program.

P-3Artists or entertainers, either an individual or group, to perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique.

I- Representatives of foreign press, radio, film or other foreign information media.

H-1B3Fashion Model, to be eligible for this visa category you must be a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.