You Better Work! (With a New Class of Visa): The Foreign Model Dilemma


What do fashion models and computer whizzes have in common? It’s usually not their looks. If they aren’t U.S. citizens, they share the same work visa class, the H-1B. Rep. Anthony Weiner thinks this is a problem because it means that models have more difficulty getting into the country. After all, computer geniuses tend to be a priority over human clothes hangers.

Weiner has proposed legislation that would move foreign models’ visa class to the easier-to-obtain P visa, which is reserved for entertainers and athletes. His argument is not to expand his dating pool, as the Post jokes. (Weiner is dating Hillary Clinton’s “hottie” aide Huma Abedin.) Weiner says that since fashion is such a big industry in New York, the more in-demand foreign models need to be allowed into the country to keep the city competitive on the world stage.

The next logical question is, “Why can’t they just use American models?” The reason is simple: the “look” that’s in right now tends to be Eastern European (think Karolina Kurkova) or Brazilian (Gisele Bundchen is the world’s highest-paid model). Americans lag far behind. According to the Daily News, Bundchen earned $33 million last year. Carolyn Murphy, the highest-paid U.S. model, made $5 million in the same timeframe. Supermodel and tabloid fixture Janice Dickinson sees this as an opportunity for American models to make their mark and opposes the legislation.

This story just proves the power of a pretty face: when was the last time you saw immigration issues on the front page of one of our tabloids?