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The O-1 Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

The O-1 visa is the primary immigration visa used by Foreign Artists to bring their talents to U.S. audiences. The visa is a temporary work visa available to foreign nationals who have “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.”

The visa is also very common in the motion picture and television industries — in creative fields such as directors, make-up artists, set designers, choreographers, photographers, and carpenters. To qualify, these professionals must demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement.” Khurgel Immigration Law Firm works closely with movie studios, managers, agents, producers, record labels and production companies in preparing the artist’s immigration case.

Qualifying for an O-1 Visa

An O-1 visa applicant must be petitioned by a U.S. company, or a U.S. agent. O-1 applicants may not self-petition. An O-1 visa applicant must show that he or she has achieved sustained or international acclaim and an extraordinary record of achievement. The applicant must demonstrate that he or she is coming to the United States to perform temporary services for a U.S. employer relating to an event or series of events.

To demonstrate international recognition and extraordinary ability in the business or sciences, the O-1 visa applicant may provide evidence that he or she is the winner of an internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or by demonstrating at least three of the following:

  • Published material about their work;
  • Internationally or nationally recognized prizes or awards;
  • Membership in an association that requires members to have outstanding achievement;
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles published in any type of major media or professional journals;
  • High salary or any other type of compensation;
  • Participation on a panel, or as a judge for other people’s works;
  • Evidence of past employment for organizations or establishments that have a high 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.

To demonstrate international recognition and extraordinary ability in the arts and motion pictures and television, the O-1 visa applicant may also provide evidence that he or she is the winner of an internationally-recognized award, such as an Academy Award or a Grammy, or by demonstrating at least three of the following:

  • High salary in relation to others in the field.
  • Lead or starring role for productions or events with distinguished reputations;
  • National or International recognition demonstrated by published material about your work;
  • Lead, starring, or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputation;
  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success;
  • Significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field;

If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.

Validity Period

The O-1 visa can be valid for up to three years and may be extended in one year increments if the O-1 project is ongoing. O-1 visa holders may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. An extension of status can be filed for beneficiaries in the U.S. whose activities are ongoing. If there is a material change in the terms of conditions of employment (including an employer), a new nonimmigrant worker petition must be filed with the USCIS requesting an approval of the change.

Visas for the O-1 Principal’s Coworkers (O-2) and Family (O-3)

Spouses and children of an O-1 visa holder are eligible for O-3 visa status. During their stay in the U.S., the family members may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college full or part-time.

Individuals accompanying an O-1 visa holder and playing a role in the O-1 performance or activities, may be eligible for O-2 visas. Such individuals must show that they have a long-standing work relationship with the O-1 principal, are integral to the performance(s) and have critical skills and experience that cannot be performed by another U.S. worker.

If you are an agent, manager, or individual seeking immigration status under the O-1 Extraordinary Ability classification, schedule a consultation to discuss your background and eligibility.

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