The O-1 visa is granted to individuals who possess exceptional skills or accomplishments and desire to live and work temporarily in the United States. This visa category acknowledges individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in various fields such as science, arts, education, business, or athletics. It also encompasses individuals who have achieved remarkable success in the motion picture or television industry, receiving national or international recognition for their accomplishments.

The O-1A visa specifically applies to individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. On the other hand, the O-1B visa is designated for individuals with extraordinary achievements in the arts, motion picture industry, or television field.

O-1A Visa Qualifications:

To qualify for the O-1A visa, the beneficiary must provide evidence of receiving a significant, internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize. Alternatively, they can submit evidence of meeting at least three of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in their field.
  • Membership in associations in their field that require outstanding achievements, as determined by recognized national or international experts.
  • Published material about the beneficiary and their work in professional or major trade publications, newspapers, or other major media.
  • Original contributions of major significance in the scientific, scholarly, or business-related aspects of their field.
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or major media related to their field.
  • High salary or remuneration for services, supported by contracts or reliable evidence.
  • Participation as a judge or panelist in evaluating the work of others in the same or allied field.
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments with a distinguished reputation.

Comparable evidence and supporting documents may also be provided to prove the above.

O-1B Visa Qualifications:

To qualify for the O-1B visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate that they have received or been nominated for significant national or international awards or prizes in their specific field. Alternatively, they can provide evidence of meeting at least three of the following criteria:

  • Performance or planned participation as a lead or starring participant in productions or events that have a distinguished reputation, as evidenced by critical reviews, publications, contracts, or endorsements.
  • National or international recognition for achievements, as indicated by critical reviews or published materials about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications.
  • Performance or planned involvement in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations or establishments with a distinguished reputation, supported by articles, testimonials, or publications.
  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, demonstrated by indicators such as titles, ratings, box office receipts, or occupational achievements reported in trade journals or major newspapers.
  • Significant recognition for achievements from respected organizations, critics, government agencies, or recognized experts in the field, with testimonials clearly demonstrating the author's authority and knowledge.
  • High salary or substantial remuneration compared to others in the field, evidenced by contracts or reliable evidence.
  • Comparable evidence and supporting documents may also be provided.

In both cases, it is essential that the individuals with extraordinary ability are seeking temporary entry to the United States to continue their work in the respective fields where they have demonstrated exceptional achievements.

Prodecure for O Visa Application:

To apply for an O visa, the petitioner must submit a Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to the USCIS. The petition should be filed more than 45 days before the intended start date in the United States, but no more than 1 year in advance.

The following supporting evidence must be included with the petition:

  • A written advisory opinion from a peer group or labor organization stating their "no objection" to the beneficiary's employment. If there is no relevant peer group or organization, the decision will be based on the available evidence.
  • A contract between the petitioner and beneficiary or evidence outlining the terms of the agreement between them.
  • Itineraries detailing the activities and duration of the beneficiary's performances or events in the United States.

O Visa Time Period of Stay:

An O nonimmigrant is initially granted a period of stay of up to three (3) years in the United States. If the beneficiary needs to extend their stay, they can file a new I-129 petition for extensions of up to one (1) year at a time.

O Category Family Visas:

The spouse and/or children of an O visa holder can accompany or join the principal applicant in the United States on an O-3 visa. Nonetheless, individuals in O-3 status are not allowed to work in the United States. They are permitted to pursue educational studies, however.

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