Temporary Visa for Persons with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement: the O-1 Visa
O-1 non-immigrant visas are for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, 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.
O-1A Visa for Persons with Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business, or Athletics
Primary Requirements and Considerations for the O-1 Visa
- Foreign national must possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, as demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. Extraordinary ability means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. It also means distinction with a high level of achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.
- Extraordinary ability in the sciences , education, business, or athletics must be proven by receipt of a major internationally recognized award (i.e., Nobel Prize) or documenting at least three of the following: (1) receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards; (2) membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievement; (3) published materials about the applicant in professional or major trade publications; (4) judgment of the work of others; (5) original scientific or scholarly work of major significance in the field; (6) evidence of authorship of scholarly work; (7) evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity at an organization with a distinguished reputation; or (8) has commanded or will command a high salary in relation to others in the field.
- Extraordinary ability in the arts must be proven by being nominated for, or the recipient of, a significant national or international award or prize, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award, or by documenting at least three of the following: (1) lead in production having a distinguished reputation; (2) critical reviews in major newspapers or trade journals; (3) lead for organization that has a distinguished reputation; (4) record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes; (5) significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field; or (6) had commanded or will command a high salary.
- A written advisory opinion, or consultation, from an appropriate peer group, labor and/or management organization is required for all O visas.
- Foreign national must enter the United States for the purpose of continuing work in the area of extraordinary ability or achievement. The position itself does not need to require someone of extraordinary ability.
O-1B Visa for Persons with Extraordinary Achievement in the Motion Picture or Television Industry
- Foreign national must have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievements that have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation, and he or she must be outstanding, notable, or leading.
- Foreign national’s high level of accomplishment must be evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered.
- Foreign national must have received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award or three of the following: (1) performed or will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements; (2) achieved national or international recognition for achievements; (3) performed or will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; (4) a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes; (4) received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field; and (6) a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field.
- Petition must include written advisory opinions from appropriate union and management groups, describing the foreign national’s achievements.
O-2 Visa for Persons Accompanying and assisting O-1 Artists or Athletes for Specific Events
- Must be an integral part of the O-1 visa holder’s actual performance.
- Must have critical skills and experience with the O-1 visa holder that are not of a general nature and cannot be performed by other individuals.
- Must prove current essentiality, critical skills, and experience with the O-1 not possessed by a U.S. worker.
- Must have foreign residence that he or she has no intention of abandoning.
- O-2 petitions must contain consultations from each union with appropriate expertise over the activities of the O-2 beneficiaries.
- A motion picture/TV O-2 petition must include written advisory opinions from the same groups, describing the foreign national’s skills and experience with the O-1 visa holder and whether are longstanding relationship exists or, for continuity purposes, whether the O-2’s continuing participation in production is essential because significant production will take/has taken place in and out of the United States.
- Consultations may be waived if no appropriate union exists.
Period of Stay for O-1 and O-2 Visa Holders
The validity period for O visas is tied to the specific event(s) that bring the O visa holder to the United States. Such events include scientific projects, conferences, conventions, lecture series, tours, exhibits, business projects, academic years, engagements, appearances. The initial period of stay is up to three years, depending on the length of the qualifying event(s). Extensions of status are granted in one-year increments for the same event. O-1/O-2 visa holders may be admitted 10 days before and stay for 10 days after the validity period, but cannot work during this time. There is no overall time limit on O visas.
Family of O-1 and O2 Visa Holders
Spouses and children under the age of 21 of O-1 and O-2 visa holders may be eligible to apply for an O-3 non-immigrant visa, subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 non-immigrant. O-3 dependent relatives may not work in the United States under this classification, but may engage in full-time or part-time study.
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