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O Visas

Are you a foreign citizen and also a brilliant scientist, top chef, or exceptional artist?
Are you the next Michael Jordan or David Beckham?
Are you the next Tom Cruise or Steven Spielberg?
Have you directed a highly acclaimed movie like Slumdog Millionaire?
Are you a foreign national who has won awards for your work or talents?

If you replied “Yes” to any of the above, you might be eligible for an O visa. The O visa is granted to people who have extraordinary skills in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or those who have a proven record of extraordinary achievement in the film or television industries. O visa applicants are typically people with this kind of background who wish to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis to continue their work.

WHAT TYPES OF O VISAS ARE AVAILABLE? THERE ARE FOUR TYPES OF VISAS:

  1. O-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures, or television industry);
  2. O-1B: Individuals with a special ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry;
  3. O-2: Persons who accompany an O-1 visa holder to assist in a particular event; and,
  4. O-3: Spouses and/or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED EXTRAORDINARY” FOR THE PURPOSE OF AN VISA?

To be considered “special” or “extraordinary” for the purposes of an O visa, the foreign national’s ability must be at the highest level in his or her field and recognized by national or international acclaim. The chart below further describes what is “extraordinary” in each particular field

Field:

Meaning of “Extraordinary”:

Arts

High level of achievement in the field of the arts, evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above the ordinarily encountered, to the extent that the person is described as prominent, or is renowned, leading, or well-known in his or her field of the arts.

Science, education, business or athletics

A level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentages of those who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.

Motion picture or television industry

Must demonstrate extraordinary achievement, evidenced by a degree of skill, and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

*Source: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services

 

WHAT ARE THE DOCUMENTS WHICH ARE REQUIRED TO APPLY FOR AN O-1 VISA?

There are some documents required for both the O-1 A and O-1B visas.

O-1A VISA:

  • A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the individual’s area of ability;
  • A copy of any written contract between you and your visa petitioner or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which you will be employed;
  • An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities;
  • Evidence that you have received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
    • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized international experts;
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers, or other major media about you and your work in the field for which classification is sought;
    • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought;
    • A high salary or other remuneration for services, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
    • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same field, or in an area of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought;
    • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation in the field of endeavor.

O-1B VISA:

1) A written advisory opinion, describing your ability as follows:

  • If the petition is based on your extraordinary ability in the arts, the consultation must be from a peer group (including labor organizations) in your field of endeavor, or a person or persons designated by the group with expertise in your area of ability;
  • If the petition is based on your extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television industry, separate consultations are required from a labor, and a management organization with expertise in your field of endeavor;
  • A copy of any written contract between you and the petitioner or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which you will be employed.

2) Evidence that you have received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  • 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;
  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews, or other published materials by or about you in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which you are engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements;
  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services about others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Also, note that if the above standards do not readily apply to your occupation in the arts, you may submit comparable evidence to establish your eligibility. However, this standard does not apply to the motion picture or television industry.

HOW LONG CAN STAY IN THE U.S. ON AN VISA?

You can stay in the U.S. for three years on an O visa. Extensions of one (1) year increments may be granted, if more time is required by the O visa holder.

CAN BRING MY FAMILY ON AN VISA?

Yes. O-3 visas may be issued to your spouse and children (under the age of 21). Your family members may not work in the U.S., but are allowed to study in the U.S..

CONCLUSION

If you possess an extraordinary ability in your field or have a highly acclaimed piece of work or talent, and would like to come to the United States to continue your work, then you may be eligible for an O visa. Your skills and abilities in your particular field must be proven before your entry into the United States. On an O visa your spouse and children, as well as various individuals who are essential to your work or talent may accompany you.

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