O1 Visa Requirements : O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
The O nonimmigrant classification are commonly referred to as:
- O-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry);
- O-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry;
- O-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance; and
- O-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.
To qualify for an O-1 visa, you must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, or a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry, and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that you are one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field.
Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts. This is evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that you are prominent, renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.
To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, you must demonstrate extraordinary achievement. This is evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that you are recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
To qualify for an O-2 visa, your assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A visa holder’s performance and you must have critical skills and experience with the O-1 visa holder that are not of a general nature and cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker. In the case of an O-2 visa holder in the motion picture or television industry, you must have skills and experience with the O-1 visa holder that are not of a general nature and which are critical either based on a pre-existing longstanding working relationship or, with respect to the specific production, because significant production (including pre- and post-production work) will take place both inside and outside the United States and your continuing participation is essential to the successful completion of the production.
- Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field.
- Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized experts in the field.
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about applicant’s work.
- Evidence of participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the field.
- Evidence in the form of five or six letters and affidavits from prominent colleagues who can confirm applicant’s original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance to the field. Regulations require a “peer group” must attest to the applicant’s outstanding qualifications. We have found that this requirement may be fulfilled by letters of recommendation in which the referees outline their own standing in the field.
- Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
- Evidence of commanding a high salary or other compensation for services (this category does not usually apply to academic positions).
Application Process for an O-1 Visa
A U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or foreign employer through a U.S. agent should file on your behalf, along with the required evidence according to the form instructions. Your employer or agent cannot file the petition more than one year before they actually need your services. To avoid delays, your employer or agent should file your Form I-129 at least 45 days before the date of employment.
In addition to Form I-129, the petitioner must submit the documentary evidence discussed below:
The Petitioner must provide a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person 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.
When a consultation includes a watermark or other distinctive marks to confirm the authenticity of the document, petitioners should submit to USCIS the version containing the watermark or other distinctive marks. Copies of documents that do not contain the appropriate watermark or other distinctive marks may raise doubts about the authenticity of the document and may result in processing delays. For example, USCIS may request that the petitioner submit the original version of the document. To avoid processing delays, petitioners should ensure that they submit the appropriate version and that any associated watermark or other distinctive marks are legible.