O-1

The O category is a non immigrant visa for individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics (O-1) coming to the U.S. temporarily. The individual must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim. The artist’s or athlete’s support staff can qualify for an O-2 visa and must maintain a foreign residence that they do not intend on abandoning. This category should not be confused with the immigrant extraordinary ability (EB-1, employment based first preference) category.

To qualify, the applicant must be coming to the U.S. to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement temporarily.

How to Apply

A U.S. employer files the petition for extraordinary ability or achievement in Sciences, Athletics or Business, with the following:

  1. A documented peer group advisory opinion, or a designated person from the peer group who has expertise in the individual’s area of extraordinary ability;
  2. Written contracts between the individual and employer;
  3. Verification of the individual’s receipt of internationally recognized awards (i.e Nobel Prize, etc.), or at minimum three of the following:
    • Within the field, recipient of a nationally or internationally recognized award or prize for excellence;
    • Within the field, membership in associations that requires outstanding accomplishments, as defined by recognized and established international experts;
    • Within the field, published articles in major trade or professional publications, newspapers, or other recognized media about the individual and his or her work;
    • Within the field, major significant contributions that are original, scholarly, scientific, or business-related;
    • Within the field, authoring scholarly articles in esteemed professional journals or other recognized media;
    • Evidence of significant remuneration for services;
    • Within the field, recognized panel participation, or as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization;
    • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
    • If the above standards do not readily apply to the individual's occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the individual's eligibility.

For those in the Arts, Television or Motion Picture industry, the requirements are as follows:

The U.S. employer files the petition in the Arts, Television or Motion Picture, industry with:

  1. If the petition is in the arts, a documented peer group advisory opinion, or a designated person from the peer group who has expertise in the individual’s area of extraordinary ability will need to confirm the individual’s extraordinary ability. If the petition is for extraordinary achievements in the television or motion picture industry, separate consultations are required from a management and a labor group with expertise in the field.
  2. Copy of written contracts between the individual and the employer;
  3. Within the field, evidence the individual has been nominated, or received significant national or international prizes or awards (e.g. Emmy, Academy Award, Director’s Guild Award, or Grammy, or at least three of the following:
    • Was or is a starring or lead participant in events or productions that have a recognized and distinguished reputation as demonstrated reviews, publicity releases, advertisements, publications, endorsements or contracts;
    • National or international recognition, as demonstrated by articles or published materials about or by the individual in trade journals, magazines, newspapers or other publications or reviews;
    • Evidence of critically acclaimed status or major commercial success (television ratings, title, or box office receipts, standing in the field, etc.);
    • Significant recognition from critics, government agencies, established organizations, or other recognized experts in the field;
    • High remuneration or salary for services; or
    • If the above standards do not readily apply to the applicant's occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the applicant's eligibility.

The O-2 status is available to artists or athletes staff who provide an integral and essential role to the athletic or artistic performances. Alternatively, an O-2 may also be issued if the essential support services cannot be readily done by a U.S. worker in order to support a successful performance. The U.S. employer must file the O-2 at the same time as the O-1 applicant petition. In order to support the O-2 application the following must be submitted:

  1. Written advisory opinion
  2. The written opinion, if in the arts, must be from a labor organization whose expertise is in arts.
  3. The written opinion, if in the television or motion picture industry, must be from a management and labor organization with expertise in the television or motion picture industry.
  4. Documentation that the individual has substantial experience using a critical skill set to support the O-1 and that the experience and critical skills set is essential.

For assistance in applying or determining qualification under this category please contact our office.

Duration

There is no maximum duration of stay for an O visa holder, however the actual initial duration of stay is generally determined by the event(s) that the individual will be participating in, but no more that 3 years. The O visa holder may extend the visa in one year increments provided that it can be demonstrated that the U.S. employer is still in need of the O visa holder. The O visa holder may enter the United States 10 days prior to the authorized period of stay and remain up to 10 days after the authorized period, but may not work during that time.

Dependents

Spouses and children (unmarried children under 21 years) of O-1’s are granted O-3 status with the same O-1 restrictions. O Dependents are not eligible to work in the United States.

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