The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. Extraordinary ability means “ distinction “ or 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 The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
The petitioner should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, (see Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, link to the right) with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. The 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.
The petitioner or the US Agent must submit Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
O visa is valid for up to 3 years and USCIS will determine time necessary ti accomplish the ititnial event in increment of up to 1 year
Short-term work visas are available to certain people doing specialized work, including the O visa for outstanding workers in the sciences, arts, athletics, education, or business. (This comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act at I.N.A. § 101(a) (15)(O); 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(O), or the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(A)(1).)
A job offer from a U.S. employer is a basic requirement for the O visa. There is no annual limit on the number of people who can receive O visas.
Some of the advantages and disadvantages of the O visa include:
O-1 visas are available to people who have not only a job offer in the U.S., but proven extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. What does it mean to be considered a person of extraordinary ability? See below for the details. In general, the person must have received national or international acclaim in a particular field, or, if working in motion pictures or television productions, have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement.
O-1 visas can be given only on the basis of a person’s individual qualifications. Being a members of a group or team will not, by itself, qualify someone for an O-1 visa.
In addition, the person must be coming to the U.S. work or perform at an event or a series of events in the area of extraordinary ability. The term “event” is interpreted liberally outside the fields of athletics and arts and can include, for example, an ongoing research project for a private company.
To meet the O-1 visa standards, the applicant must be able to show extraordinary ability and receipt of sustained national or international acclaim for it. This can be demonstrated if the person has gotten a major internationally recognized award, such as an Olympic medal or a Pulitzer Prize, or has accomplished at least three of the following:
If the above criteria do not readily apply to the applicant's occupation, the company filing the immigration petition may submit comparable evidence to show how “extraordinary” the person really is. The company should take care to explain exactly why the above criteria do not apply to the applicant.
When applying as an O-1 alien of extraordinary ability in the arts, the person should start by making sure his or her work fits the immigration law’s definition of art. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations define art broadly, to include:
. . . any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. Aliens engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers but other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians, and animal trainers.
(See 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(o)(3)(ii).)
The applicant must also be coming to the U.S. to perform in the area of extraordinary ability. He or she must be recognized as prominent in the field of endeavor. To demonstrate such recognition, the applicant will need to supply documents showing that he or she has been nominated for or have received significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award. Alternately, the employer filing the petition can submit at least three of the following forms of documentation:
If the above criteria do not lend themselves to the person's occupation and situation, the petitioning employer may submit alternative but comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.