O-1 Visas for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
The O-1 classification is for individuals who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
Although the criteria that must be met to obtain O-1 Visa status is higher than other visa classifications, it comes with some major advantages.
- It does not have an annual Cap
- It is not limited to certain professions
- It does not require a specific business relationship
- It is renewable indefinitely
What type of O-1 Visa do I need?
Types of O-1 Visa
O-1 Visas have two main sub-classifications:
- O-1A Visa: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.
- O-1B Visa: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.
Many often overlook the potential for an O-1A Visa for those in business. Athletics is also broader than many first perceive, as it includes all athletic disciplines and is not limited to mainstream athletics. We have proven success in assisting those with specific business expertise and/or ability to obtain O-1A Visa status, as well as those with demonstrated achievements in science, education, and athletics.
How do I qualify for an O-1 Visa?
Qualifying for an O-1A Visa
A common misconception with the O-1A Visa is that the beneficiary must have received a major internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize. This is not the case. Most O-1A Visas are issued to those that can demonstrate at least three (3) of the following criteria:
- 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 that require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
- Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers, or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s 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 or in a field 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
If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.
Qualifying for an O-1B Visa
To qualify for an O-1B Visa, the application must demonstrate evidence that the beneficiary has 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 criteria:
- Performed and 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 the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials
- 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 the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the beneficiary’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 the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility (this exception does not apply to the motion picture or television industry)
How do I apply for an O-1 Visa?
Applying for the O-1 Visa
A US employer, US agent, or foreign employer through a US agent must file Form I-129 on behalf of the applicant of an O-1A Visa or O-1B Visa, along with the required evidence according to the form instructions. The employer or agent cannot file the petition more than one year before they actually need the applicant’s services. To avoid delays, the employer or agent should file Form I-129 at least 45 days before the date of employment.
What about my assistants and my family?
O-2 Visas for Assistants
Individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance may apply for an O-2 Visa.
How do I apply for an O-2 Visa? The employer must file a unique Form I-129 on behalf of assistants at the same time as and in connection with the O-1A or O-1B beneficiary.
O-3 Visas for Family
Individuals who are the spouse or children under the age of 21 of O-1 and O-2 Visa holders may accompany or follow to join as an O-3 nonimmigrant.
How do I apply for an O-3 Visa? Applicants must file Form DS-160 with the Department of State.
Can my spouse work on an O-3 Visa? O-3 Visa holders may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may participate in full-time or part-time study.
We Can Help You Apply for O-1 Visas
At Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law, we focus our legal practice on the Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States. Our specialized practice has allowed us to gain particular expertise with the preparation, filing, and successful adjudication of O-1 Visa applications, including new applications, renewals, extensions, denials, and all other O-1, O-2, and O-3 Visa related matters.
Our Resources for O-1 Visas
Additional Outside Resources
The Arrive Podcast
With 1 to 2 new episodes each month, the Arrive Podcast can help you stay updated on the US immigration matters that matter the most to you.
Our US Immigration Videos
Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law regularly creates video content about the current state of a certain aspect of US immigration law, and how it applies to Canadians living and working in the United States today.