Is it possible for me to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (or similarly the B-1 visa) to model for a fashion company's campaign? Thanks for any help!
Welcome new user.
This tricky question comes up a lot
To explain it in a nutshell:
It is 100% ok to come for "meetings". But you can't come for "work".
That's the whole thing.
Unfortunately that's all there is to it.
Unfortunately there is nothing more to learn or know.
It just comes down to a personal judgement by the agent when you arrive, what he or she thinks. Is it a "meeting" or "work"?
(Remembering that in the overwhelming majority of cases you won't even be asked in detail. The agent might mumble "staying long?" or "business or tourism?")
Nobody else can advise you on this. Any advice you get here or elsewhere would just be: "I guess that in your situation, most of the agents would say [ insert guess here ] and that's what I think."
It is an actual fact that huge, vast numbers of computer programmers in particular waltz in to the US every day saying (on the rare occasion they are asked) "I'm here for some meetings! on the SuperShop project!" but in reality of course, they spend five weeks in the US office melting their keyboards, programming away 16 hours a day.
That's a subtle thing .. are they literally working? Or are they just taking notes (lots .. and lots .. of notes .. in c#) regarding the project? IDK.
So. In your case you're having a meeting with some designers etc - ok, some people nearby will hold down record on their phones, and it may end up on the www.
Is that work? Is that modeling? IDK.
The last time I sent an influencer from Europe to California to be in a social media shoot for a client, they didn't even think about it and just went on the normal VWP.
If that person had (incredibly) been random grilled by the agents, what could they say?
They could outright lie and say "I'm only here to visit my cousin!"
They could outright lie and say "I am here for a Meeting!"
They could internally actually believe it is not work (I mean it's a meeting that might be on some phone videos) and they would say "I'm off to meet the design department of our company! I've never been to LA before!"
They could quite factually state "I'm off to StyleCon for four days!" Which is 10000% true, right? (HINT that's a good one for you. About a billion people an hour arrive in the US to go to industry conferences.)
They could state "I'm here in the US to WORK!"
In cases 4 and 3 they would be waved through like the other 300 people arriving from the same plane in the same situation. In cases 1 and 2, border agents instantly detect all lying, so you'd be screwed. In case 5 obviously you'd simply be sent home.
Honestly, nobody can advise you on the choice! It's a real nuisance.
A particularly annoying thing is that this is the most bent rule in the book - especially with some professions. Say you are an accountant - like the CFO of a company. You come to the US to one of the offices. You're having "meetings" .. ok .. gathering lots of data, copying spreadsheets etc. Are you working?
Also, annoyingly, for more senior individuals it's easier to get away with it. You're a senior manager or indeed the CEO or such; you go to office X in the USA for six weeks. Are you "working"? "Observing" Just "familiarizing"? Is "Management" actually work anyway - what if you're say a board member, do board members "work"? What if you're a brand-name trillion dollar novelist and you spend 2 months in the US creating ("thinking up") your next billion-dollar property - is that "work"?
It's a really tricky question.