The holiday season is always a busy time of year for businesses. There is often an increased need for seasonal workers at airports, malls, and throughout the travel and retail industries. Many clients come to us asking how to secure visas or expedite work permits to meet this need. This got us thinking — how is one very important seasonal worker, Santa Claus, able to travel and work in the US with his reindeer every year?
The easiest way for Santa to visit the US temporarily over the holidays and conduct his business without issue would be to apply for a B-1 “Temporary Business Visitor” visa. This visa is designed for individuals who would like to come to the US on a temporary and short-term basis for any of the following reasons:
- To consult with business associates (elves);
- To attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference (Christmas markets);
- To settle an estate (maybe he has some American relatives?);
- To negotiate a contract (we imagine managing Christmas is a complex and lucrative business);
- To participate in short-term training (renew his sleigh license);
- To transit through the United States (to quickly get to all of the other countries in one night).
Based on the complexity of Santa’s business in the US and around the world, this flexible and versatile visa may be ideal for him.
If Santa’s workshop in the North Pole has a satellite office in the US, they may want to apply to transfer Santa and other workers to the US for the holidays. The L1-sleigh visa is for employees to be transferred from one office to another. These employees must work in managerial or executive positions at foreign offices. We can assume that Santa is the CEO of his workshop, so he should be eligible for this visa.
Since Santa’s reindeer need to accompany him on his business trip, they may qualify for L-1B visas. These are for employees who are not managers or executives, but who work in positions that require specialized knowledge. We’re sure it takes a significant amount of specialized training to become employed as one of Santa’s reindeer.
If Santa would prefer to have a longer stay in the US with unlimited extensions, he may want to apply for a HohohO-1 visa. This visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who is recognized for work in the film or television industry. We would say Santa checks all of these boxes.
If Santa is planning to apply for an O-1, he may want to include Rudolph on the petition, as he is the most famous reindeer of them all. Since he has literally gone down in history, Rudolph would have no trouble putting together a strong O-1 visa application. Won’t you guide the petition tonight, Rudolph?
If the O-1 doesn’t work out for Santa, he may also consider an EB-2 visa. This is generally for persons with exceptional ability and high level degrees, but the degree requirements can sometimes be waived with a “National Interest Waiver.” In order to be eligible for this waiver, you must first be a professional holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or have “exceptional ability” as defined by the regulations. You must then meet a three-prong test by showing that (1) your proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance, (2) you are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, and (3) it would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive the requirement of a job offer. Since Santa is of particularly high national interest, he is likely to be approved for this waiver despite the fact that he does not hold any advanced degrees or certifications. (Do you know anyone uninterested in holiday gifts?)
Overall, Santa likely has several viable options for obtaining a visa to travel to and conduct business in the US. And because each of these visa categories allows for dependents to join the principal applicant, Mrs. Claus has the option to join her husband as he travels the US.
Regardless what option Santa chooses, he should probably consider applying as soon as possible, since USCIS delays are likely to become even worse over the holidays. (In fact USCIS is probably on the naughty list this year.)