Extraordinary Ability Visa

What is an O Visa?

 

An O-1 is a nonimmigrant visa designed to allow entry to individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.  The O visa classification is split up into three different categories:

 

  • O-1A Visa: For individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics

  • O-1B Visa: For individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry

  • O-2: For those who company an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.  Such people must have the skills and experience with the O-1 applicant, such that those skills cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1.

  • O-3: For individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s.

 

How do I become eligible for an O Visa?

 

USCIS has strict criteria to determine eligibility for an O Visa.   To qualify, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.  Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

 

Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction, that is, a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by "a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts."

 

To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

 

How do I apply for an O Visa?

 

To file for this visa, the apllicant must file Form I-129 with USCIS.  The visa petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien's services.  To avoid delays, the Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment, and must include additional evidentiary documents.  These documents include, but are not limited to - a consultation from the applicant's peer group on the applicant's expertise, travel itinerary, and a contract between the applicant and the place where he or she will be working or performing.  

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