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I am a Canadian wedding and portrait photographer.  I recently received a request from an American bride who would like me to photograph her wedding in the US.  I have no idea what type of paperwork I need in place to do this legally?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Warm regards,

ANSWER: Hello Aimee!

Great question!

Legal disclaimer right up front - sorry, I'm a lawyer, so must do it:)
We do not have a US attorney - client relationship - which is a formal relationship that obligates the attorney to certain obligations and requirements in support of the client.  Since we do not have that relationship, those requirements and obligations do not exist.

Bottom line, again right up front - you basically can't do it - legally.  International immigration laws exist to protect citizens from, among other things, business competition from non-citizens.  There are exceptions of course, but they do not appear to exist in your brief description of the facts.  The key problem for you is that your potential "employer" is a US citizen. If the bride was a Canadian citizen, we would have a different conversation.

Of course, many people have tried and would try to do this illegally, via various forms of deception.  I advise against it because first, it is wrong; and, two, the consequences are potentially severe - if you get caught coming or going to perform this service you could face severe restrictions in your ability to reenter the US in the future.

Also, even if it were theoretically possible to perform this service under one of the temporary work exceptions you can access via the link below, the paperwork, fees and time spent would for most people performing this service be too demanding.

Finally, another caution: you may receive a different response from others if you ask the very same question.  Please be aware they may be more interested in charging you fees for advice than giving you the hard truth about immigration laws.

Do not hesitate to follow-up with additional questions if you desire.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your response, Christian.  It is greatly appreciated.

I would have thought there would be some kind of visa that covered artists, models, musicians, etc that frequently travel and work internationally.  I had wondered if it would be problematic that the bride was an American citizen while I am a Canadian one.  I will give the consulate a call tomorrow and see what they have to say.

If you have anything to add, I would be happy to hear it and if not, thank you again for you time.  

Warm regards,

Hello again Aimee:

You're talking about O and P visas - and the CLOSEST for you would appear to be:

"For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise."

You didn't seem to fit this category, based on your brief discussion of your situation.  The operative words here are "sustained national or international acclaim."  However, if this does describe you, then you may have a shot at getting this difficult to obtain visa.  Again, immigration laws here, and in Canada, serve to protect local citizens from non-citizen competition, even in the artist, model, performer, musician category.



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Christian Eades


I can answer all questions related to the immigration aspects of international business involving the US. I can also offer expertise on more general legal questions relating to international business.


I am a US immigration attorney and former US State Department Consular Officer. I assist clients every day with routine and unusual issues related to doing business in, emigrating to or visiting the US. I have lived in and/or done deals on three continents, including Europe, Asia and Africa.

Two law degrees, including an LL.M., the most advanced law degree awarded in the US.

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