The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. government to foreign nationals who seek to enter the United States to work temporarily in their field of endeavor.
O-1 visas are available to individuals demonstrating extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1A) or individuals demonstrating a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry (O-1B). There is also the O-2 visa which is for foreign nationals who plan to enter the United States to accompany O-1 aliens in the arts, motion picture and television industry, as well as athletics. Additionally, an O-1 and O-2 beneficiary may also bring certain family members (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) with them to the U.S. states under O-3 status, however, only the O-1 beneficiary may work in the United States.
This is an employment related status that allows qualified aliens to live and work in the United States. Individuals cannot petition themselves for O visa status, O-1 petitions may only be filed by U.S. employers, U.S. agents, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent on behalf of the beneficiary. The O-1 visa is a dual intent visa and therefore, the beneficiary may simultaneously seek permanent resident status while in the U.S. without giving rise to notions of preconceived intent. O visas are typically issued for up to 3 years with no limit on extensions, and there is no annual quota so there is no risk the visa will “run out.”
In order to attain an O-1A the foreign national must provide evidence that he/she 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
In order to qualify for an O-1B the foreign national must provide evidence that he/she 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