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Extraordinary Ability Visa – Who Qualifies for an O-1 Visa?
The O-1 temporary visa is intended for people who possess extraordinary skills in arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics, or who have a solid track record of extraordinary performance in the motion picture and television industry and have been identified and acknowledged domestically and internationally for their excellence.
Types of Extraordinary Ability Visa (O -1 Visas)
- O-1A visa – is reserved for people who have extraordinary skills in sciences, business, education, or athletics.
- O-1B visa – is intended for people with extraordinary skills in the arts or extraordinary achievements in television or motion picture industry.
- O-2 visa – is given to people who will assist and accompany an
- O-1 visa holder, artists, or athletes to carry out the contemplated performance in the United States.
- O-3 visa – is provided to the spouse or children of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder.
How to Apply for an O-1 Visa
Applying for an O-1 visa can be complicated. There are a number of steps involved and there is a lot of documentation that has to be assembled in order to qualify for the visa. O-1 visas are for people who stand out!
An applicant must file a petition form for non immigrant worker with the USCIS office in no more than one year before, but at least 45 days prior to, the actual performance or the need for a foreign national to render a service.
Requirement For O-1 Visa Petitions
The O-1 visa category is divided into two groups: O-1A for the sciences, athletics, and business; O-1B for artists. While the standard of “extraordinary ability” applies to both, the definition of “extraordinary ability” is slightly different for each group.
- Employer or Agent Sponsor. The O-1 visa requires a contract with a U.S. employer or agent. You may not self-petition for an O-1.
- Advisory Opinion. O-1 visa petitions must also include an advisory opinion from a trade or consulting organization, or a reputable peer group stating that the individual does have a sustained reputation of extraordinary ability. If there is no applicable peer group, a number of strong and focused letters from experts in the field may be substituted for the advisory opinion. It is important to show that the individual has already achieved the top level in her or his field. The procedure for obtaining an advisory opinions differs from organization to organization. for a list of consultation organizations for the O visa, consultation organizations.
- Extraordinary Ability. In order to qualify for an O-1 temporary visa, the individual must have extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, or athletics.
Criteria For O-1A “Extraordinary Ability”
Extraordinary ability for O-1A purposes (sciences, athletics, business) is determined in the same manner as it is for EB-1A purposes. The individual must either demonstrate a one-time achievement at the caliber of an Olympic Medal or Nobel prize, or satisfy at least three of the following criteria:
- Receipt of lesser nationally and internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
- Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by experts in the field;
- Published materials about the individual in professional or major trade publications, or appearance/published materials about the individual in other major media;
- Participation, either individually or as part of a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the field (including having served as a reviewer/referee for articles to be published, on discussion and advisory panels, etc.);
- Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
- Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, as published in professional or major trade publications or in other major media;
- Serving in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation; and/or
- Commanding a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, as compared to others in the field.
Criteria For O-1B “Extraordinary Ability”
For O-1B purposes, extraordinary ability is defined as “distinction” in the arts. As with O-1A, distinction can be shown through a one-time major achievement such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least three of the following:
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
- 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 of 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 in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.
If the above standards do not readily apply to your occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish your eligibility (this does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).
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What 3 Types of Documents are Needed for the O Visa?
In order to make a strong petition for an O-1 visa, the following documentation should be submitted along with the petition form:
Document Type #1: Consultation
Documents of a consultation involve a written opinion from a contemporary group, which may include labor organizations, with competence in the applicant’s area of expertise. If the petition for an O-1 visa is for the benefit of a person possessing extraordinary achievement in television or motion picture industry, the consultation should be issued by an appropriate labor union and a management organization with adept knowledge in beneficiary’s area of expertise.
Exception to Needing a Consultation
- If a peer group or a labor organization with expertise in the area of beneficiary’s ability does not exist
- If the beneficiary alien is only seeking a readmission to the U.S. within two years from previous consultation to perform the same services. A waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation must be submitted by the petitioners.
Document Type #2: Contract
The contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary must be submitted. If the agreement is oral, a summary of the terms of oral agreement may be filed together with the petition form.
For purposes of proving an oral agreement, you may submit:
- Emails between the contracting parties
- Written summary of the terms of the contract.
- Other proof that an oral agreement has taken place.
The summary of Oral Agreement should include:
- What was offered by the employer in the U.S.
- What was accepted by the employee or beneficiary
Document Type #3: Itineraries
Itineraries will lay down the travel plan, schedule, agenda, timetable, and other programs included in the beneficiary’s travel within the period of stay in the United States. The series of events must be pointing toward the beneficiary’s extraordinary ability.
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Why Seeking Professional Help for a O-Visa is Important
Applying for an O-1 visa is a process that involves many steps and requirements. In order to satisfy an immigration officer, an applicant must provide every necessary detail. Typically, an individual that is travelling on an O-1 visa will need legal help to ensure that they are successful in their application bid. When it is a sporting event, performance or other event that an applicant plans to attend, showing up is very important. In addition, the applicant’s focus is on preparing for the event, not the application process. This is where immigration lawyers can help.
Why Hire Us to Help You With Your O-1 Visa Application?
While the procedures for O visas may seem straightforward, some employers choose to petition a foreign national of extraordinary ability without seeking any help from an immigration lawyer, which may lead to an unsuccessful application bid. We have helped hundreds of extraordinary individuals successfully enter the U.S. with O visas and we can help you too!