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O-1 Visa for Extraordinary Ability Talents

O-1 Visa for Extraordinary Ability in Arts, Sports, and Business and Education

The O-1 Visa for Extraordinary Ability or Achievement is a temporary non immigrant visa for foreign talents to come work in America.

The O-1 Visa is for talented people who have demonstrated recognition for their talents and outstanding abilities in science, research, arts, education, business, or sports, and are coming to US for work.

The O-1 non immigrant classification is commonly referred to as Talented Workers Visa or Extraordinary Ability Visa.

The following is a list of O visa types:

  • 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, TV or film industry. This visa is for movie and film stars.
  • O-2: support staff or O1, or “Entourage.” It’s the backup and crew people who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.  For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker must have unique and outstanding skills and be a necessary part of the O-1 holder’s performance.
  • O-3: Spouse and children under 21 of the O-1 star.

What are the requirements to qualify for the O-1 Visa?

  • The foreign talent or star must show extraordinary talent or ability or achievement on the national or international level.  The star must also show they are coming to US for a temporary period of time to work in their area of extraordinary ability.
  • Extraordinary ability in science, education, business or sports means having the highest level of talent and expertise so that the person is “one in a million”  — in a small percentage out of the big group that rose to the top in this field.
  • Extraordinary ability in ARTS means to be substantially above the regular kinds of artists, i.e. to be famous and receive high payments for the art produced.
  • Demonstrating high level of expertise is to serve on panels of judges or competitions, to have national and international media articles written about you, receiving professional praise from the titans in your industry.
  • In the movies, TV and film industry, to qualify for O-1 you have to have fame, name and facial recognition by the masses, and to have leading roles.
  • Consultation letter must be submitted as part of supporting evidence for the O-1 visa application.  This should be a written advisory opinion from a peer organization or expert group (like an artist union, labor union, expert organization or national US sports organization) in the field of the applicant’s talent/ability to confirm that the applicant is really a star.
  • References from other stars or experts in the field are required.

Do I need a job offer or sponsorship to come to US with O-1 Visa?

  • To apply for the O-1 Visa, a job offer or offer of professional collaboration is usually required.
  • The company offering to bring you to work in US in the O-1 Visa category must submit a Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with O Supplement Form to USCIS.
  • But the top talents can self-petition.  If you are an outstanding star and have extraordinary accomplishments, you may apply for yourself!  A select few of the talents may be self-petitioners.

 How Long is the O-1 Visa Valid For?

 O-1 Visa for Extraordinary Talented People is issued for a term three years, but may be renewed . 

 O-1 visa has advantages over other work visas:

  • No annual visa quota applies to O-1 Visa (unlike H1B work visas, for example).  
  • You can file for the O-1 Visa at any time.
  • Only an offer of agency or collaboration is really needed, but an offer of employment makes the strongest petition.
  • Once you have an O-1 Visa, you will not be tied to the original petitioner employer and change jobs without having to file new petitions as long as your O-1 Visa remains valid.  

 How to prove that your abilities are truly outstanding:

  • Worldwide recognition awards (like Golden Palm, Tony, Oscar, Nobel Prize).
  • Membership in trade associations where only talented people with unique abilities can be accepted.
  • Media articles about you, interviews with you.
  • Receiving high compensation for your works.
  • Existing experience as a jury member in national and international competitions in your area of work.
  • Your publications, books, scientific papers.
  • Recommendations from peers and previous employers or prominent organizations proving that you are a key specialist.
  • Leading roles 

 Do I need a lawyer to get an O-1 visa?

O-1 Visas are very complex and have many requirements that must be satisfied for USCIS to approve your petition as step one and to receive the actual visa at the consulate of your country as step 2 (if you are filing from home).  Only an experienced immigration attorney can present your O-1 case in most favorable light to you to the US immigration agencies.

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