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Obtaining an O-1 Visa

Athletes, entertainers, artists, businesspersons, scholars, and scientists from other countries might sometimes be called upon to perform work temporarily in the U.S. Those individuals with a high level of skill in their field can apply for an O-1 visa, which allows them to work in the country for the duration of the event or production for which they will be performing services.

The O-1 visa is specifically for individuals who have extraordinary abilities in their field of expertise and have achieved a level of distinction. Generally, an individual who has received national or international acclaim and is in the highest percentage of their specialty can qualify for this visa. Eligibility is determined based on the individual’s accomplishment as opposed to the accomplishments of a team.

Types of O-1 Visas

Individuals can apply for one of two types of O-1 visas, based on their area of specialization:

  • O-1A visas are for individuals who have above-average skills in athletics, science, business and the arts.

To qualify for this type of visa the individual must demonstrate at least three of the following:

  • Has received a national or international award in their area of expertise
  • Is a member of an association reserved for top performers in the field
  • Has been published in a recognized publication
  • Has provided a significant original contribution to the field
  • Has authored a scholarly article that was published in a professional journal
  • Has judged others in the same field
  • Has been employed for distinguished organizations
  • Has received a large salary or other forms of payment
  • O-1B visas are for individuals who have extraordinary ability in arts and entertainment.

An individual must have evidence of at least three of the following to qualify for this visa:

  • Has starred, or will star, in a reputable production
  • Has received positive national and international critical acclaim in major publications
  • Has had, or will have, a critical role for a reputable organization and establishment
  • Has a record of success, as shown in reports or publications
  • Has been recognized for the achievement from various agencies and organizations
  • Has a salary or receives other types of payment that is significantly higher than that of others in the field

O-1 Visa Application Process

The individual wishing to obtain either type of O-1 visa must file Form I-129 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The form must be submitted at least 45 days before, but no more than 1 year before, they will perform work in the U.S.

Along with the application, the individual may also have submitted the following documents:

  • Consultation: written recommendation from a peer group or an expert in the field
    • The consultation can be waived if a peer group does not exist; it can also be waived if the individual will reapply for the visa within 2 years and submitted a consultation when they originally applied
  • Contracts: oral or written terms of employment between the employer and the individual
  • Itinerary: a detailed record of the qualifying event, including start and end dates

Visa Extensions

The O-1 visa is valid for up to three years. It can be renewed yearly, as long as the individual will be performing the same type of work for which they originally received the O-1 visa.

To file for an extension, the individual must resubmit Form I-129 as well as complete Form I-94 and submit a document detailing the reason the extension is being requested.

O-2 and O-3 Visas

Individuals who will accompany the O-1 visa holder to the U.S. will need to apply for either an O-2 or an O-3 visa.

The O-2 visa is for individuals who have specific skills needed to perform essential support services for the O-1 visa holder.

The O-3 visa is for the O-1/O-2 visa holders’ spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. Individuals on an O-3 visa cannot work in the U.S., but they can attend school.

Compassionate Representation to Help You Meet Your Immigration Goals

If you are looking to obtain an O-1 visa, our experienced San Mateo immigration lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of this process. With over 20 years of experience, we have been successful in helping individuals achieve their goals and are happy to provide the legal guidance you need to work toward getting favorable results. We provide you with personal service to understand your goals and help prepare the documents necessary to meet your needs.

For honest and compassionate legal guidance, call The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm at (650) 562-6900 or contact us online for a consultation.

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