O Visas— for foreigners of outstanding ability

What Is an O Visa?

An O Visa is a non-immigrant visa that may be granted by USCIS to an individual who has extraordinary ability in the areas of sciences, arts, education, business, athletics or who has had extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry and received national or international recognition.

What are the types of O visas?

  • O-1A: For individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B: For individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
  • O-2: For individuals who will accompany an artist or athlete under an O-1 visa, to assist in a specific event or performance. To accompany a person under an O-1A visa, the assistance provided by the person applying for the O-2 visa must be an “integral part” of the activity of the person under the O-1A visa. To accompany a person under an O-1B, the assistance provided by the person under the O-2 visa must be “essential” to the completion of the production of the person under the O-1B visa. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the person under the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the person under the O-1 visa.
  • O-3: For individuals who are the spouse or children of individuals that have or are applying for an O-1 or O-2 visa.

Who Is Eligible for an O-1 Visa in the US?

To be eligible for an O-1 visa, the individual must sustain national or international recognition to demonstrate that person has extraordinary ability, in order to receive permission to temporarily work in this field in the United States.

  • In the fields of science, education, business or athletics, extraordinary ability means a level of expertise indicating that the person is among the top percent of the field of endeavor.
  • In the field of arts, extraordinary ability means distinction. This means the person must be recognized substantially and be well-known in the field of arts
  • In the motion picture or television industry, the individual must have a degree of skill and recognition that makes him outstanding and notable in the industry in order to demonstrate extraordinary achievement.

What Is the O-1 Visa Duration?

  • The visa is initially awarded for a period of 3 years

Renewability

The beneficiary must submit the following documents to the USCIS in order to continue the same event of activity.

  • Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
  • A copy of the beneficiary’s Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record
  • Supporting documents including a statement from the petitioner explaining the reasons for the extension

The USCIS will determine the time necessary to complete the event or activity and will increase the beneficiary’s stay in increments of up to 1 year.
The beneficiary’s spouse and children must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and submit any supporting documents to extend their stay.

Family Benefits

The spouse and children under the age of 21 of an O-1 beneficiary may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, if they are accompanying, or following to join the O-1 beneficiary. This visa is subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 nonimmigrant visa. Individuals under the O-3 may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in full or part time study.

What documentation do I need from my employer in order to apply for O-1 visa?

A copy of any written contract, or a summary of an oral contract or agreement between the petitioner and the beneficiary.

Note: The agreement must contain:

  • what was offered by the employer
  • what was accepted by the employee
  • Itineraries (An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities.)

Agents:
Note: An agent may perform the functions of an employer.

A U.S. Agent may be the actual employer of the beneficiary, the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary, or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.

What Documentation Do I Need for an O Visa?

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of Form I-94
  • Copy of Birth certificate
  • Copies of Educational Certificates
  • University transcript
  • Licenses
  • Resumes
  • Letter from employer in support of the extension

O-1A Criteria

  • Evidence that the beneficiary has 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 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

O-1B Criteria

  • 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:

  • 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

In the field of the arts, exceptions might be taken into consideration if these standards do not apply, but evidence of equivalency must be provided.

What is the Process for an O Visa Like?

Stage 1:
The petitioner should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. The Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment, and can be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien’s services. :

Stage 2: Consultation

A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.

If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.

Stage 3: Contract between petitioner and beneficiary

A copy of any written contract, or a summary of an oral contract or agreement between the petitioner and the beneficiary.

What are the U.S. Immigration Service USCIS filing fees?

The USCIS filing fee for an I-129 petition. In addition, if you would like to request premium processing, you will need to pay the filing fee for an I-907 form.

Click below links to verify the U.S. Immigration Service fees for the forms mentioned above, as they change regularly: http://www.uscis.gov/forms

What are the Fees of our Boston Immigration lawyers to Petition for the O-1 Visa?

Click here to learn more about our immigration legal fees.
Click here if you would like to come in for a free initial consultation with one of our immigration attorneys in Massachusetts.

Where can I get more Information?

StatisticsReview of Fitzgerald & Co
FitzGerald Law Company FitzGerald Law Company
×