O1 Visa: Requirements and Qualifications

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The O1 Visa program is commonly used to allows highly talented or accomplished individuals to visit the United States for a limited period of time. In the following article, we lay out the qualifications for the visa and the process for obtaining it.

 

Qualifications for an O1 Visa

The O1 Visa program is a non-immigrant visa provided to foreigners of extraordinary ability in the following fields:

O1A: Science, Education, Business, or Athletics

O1B: Extraordinary ability in the Arts or achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

The visa program also includes the following accompanying visas:

O2: Individuals accompanying O1 holder to assist in specific events or performance.

O3: Spouses and children of O1 and O-2 Visa holders.

The visa is connected to employment in the United States.

The individual seems to come to the US for a qualifying event, such as “an activity such as, but not limited to, a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture, series, tour, exhibit, business project, academic year, or engagement.” In the absence of a specific event, this definition may include a job if the job is within the individual’s area of extraordinary ability.

The visa applicant must establish her extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, and athletics through at least three of the following types of evidence:

Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
membership in associations in the field of endeavor which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their fields;
Publications in professional or major trade publication or in the major media about the alien and relating to the alien’s work in the field of endeavor;
Evidence of participation as a judge (individually or as a part of a panel) of the work of others in the alien’s field;
Evidence of scientific, scholarly, or business related contributions of major significance in the field of endeavor;
Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals or other major media;
Evidence of performance in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations;
Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others; and
Other comparable evidence

The visa applicant must establish “distinction” in her field of the arts, motion pictures, or television, to the following extent:

Achievement evidencing a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is described as prominent, leading, or well-known in the field of arts;
Accomplishment of 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 industry. This can be done through at least three of the following types of evidence:
Having been or will be performing a lead or starring role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation (as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, press releases, publications contracts, or endorsements;
Critical reviews or other published material in professional or major trade publication or in the major media by or about the alien which show that the alien has achieved national or international recognition or achievements;
Evidence of performance in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations;
Evidence of a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales;
Evidence of significant recognition for achievements form organizations, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field;
Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others; and
Other comparable evidence.

Requirements for Obtaining an O1 Visa

The O1 is filed on behalf of the beneficiary by either by:

US Employer

US Agent

Foreign Employer through a US Agent

The O1 is deal intent, means that it allows the Q-1 Visa holder to seek permanent resident status while in the US on the O1 Visa.

The O status visas allow residency for up to 3 years from the date of approval. The visa terminates when requested by the holder, the date the USCIS deems necessary to complete the specified work-related event or event cited in the Visa. If longer than 3 years is needed, the USCIS can grant extensions in 1-year increments.

There is a specific process the USCIS must go through in order to verify the alien’s eligibility for O status. The employer must first make a job offer to the Visa applicant tied to the extraordinary ability or achievement. This is normally documented through a written employment contract.

The first step in an O petition process is obtaining an advisory opinion from an appropriate consulting entity, such as a peer group, labor organization, or management organization. The advisory opinion is to state whether the alien qualifies as an alien of extraordinary ability as provided above and whether such extraordinary abilities are required for the activities to be undertaken by the alien.

If the alien is seeking an O1B visa (for an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion pictures or television), the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.

If no advisory opinion is included, the petitioner must include:

Evidence that an appropriate consulting entity does not exist;
A request for expeditious handling; or
A request for a waiver of the consulting requirements.
Note, an advisory letter is not required under the following circumstances:
An expeditious handling of the petition is requested (this can only be done in the event of an exigency such as an event that the proposed O1 alien needs to attend, before an advisory opinion can be obtained);
An appropriate consulting entity does not exist as established by the petitioner; or
ONLY for aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts, a waiver of the advisory opinion may be made because a consultation has taken place within the prior two years with regard to a previous admission to render similar services.

A prospective employer or agent must submit a Form I-129 Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker with an O/P Supplement.

If an alien is already in the U.S. in O1 status and a new employer wishes to petition for them, the I-129 will also be used to request the necessary extension of stay. The I-129 petition will be filed with the service center that has jurisdiction in the area where the alien will work or the service center servicing one of the petitioner’s locations.

If the beneficiary will work concurrently for more than one employer during the same time period, each
employer must file a separate petition with the service center that has jurisdiction over the area where the alien will perform services.

If the O1 changes employers, the new employer must file a petition with the USCIS service center that has jurisdiction over the new place of employment.

If an O1 petition is being filed by a U.S. agent on behalf of multiple employers:

The supporting documentation must include a complete itinerary of the event or events.
The itinerary must specify the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of the establishments, venues, or locations where the services will be performed.
The contracts between the employers and the beneficiary must be submitted, and
The agent must explain the terms and conditions of the employment and provide any required documentation.

Additionally, the petition must include:

A company letter from the petitioning employer supporting the petition;
Supporting Documentation to establish that the alien qualifies as an alien of extraordinary ability and that the alien is going to be employed in activities using his extraordinary abilities.; and
Filing fee of $325.00
Once the petition is granted, the foreign applicant must then visit the US Consulate in her country to receive a stamp on her passport.

The applicant must present:
Form DS-156 (non-immigrant visa application);
Passport of the applicant;
A recent photograph meeting US Department of State requirements;
Visa Application fee; and
Approval Notice (Form I-797) of the O Petition and a full copy of the O Petition including all supporting documentation.

The consular office will conduct an interview to determine if eligibility criteria are met.
If all goes well, the consulate will stamp the applicants visa.

LawTrades

The legal professionals at LawTrades are experts in all matters of immigration law. They can provide you will all of the assistance necessary to comply with O1 Visa petition requirements.