O-1B Visa for Extraordinary Ability in the Arts

Predicting 2020 U.S. Immigration Changes Photo by Denys Nevozhai
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Attorneys for O-1B Visas

Do you have “extraordinary ability” in the arts or “extraordinary achievement” or the motion picture or television industries? If so, you might qualify for an O-1B visa to temporarily visit the United States to work in your field. You will need to show that you intend to work in your field of extraordinary ability when you come to the US, so is there an assignment, performance or event that requires your presence here?


The Arts

There are two different standards based on your field. If you are in the arts, you must demonstrate your “distinction,” which means that you have “a high level of achievement in the field of arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.”  8 CFR §214.2(o)(3)(ii).


Movies and TV

If you are in motion pictures and television, you must demonstrate “a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement” for an O-1B visa.

Extraordinary achievement with respect to motion picture and television productions, as commonly defined in the industry, means a very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the motion picture or television field.

8 CFR §214.2(o)(3)(ii).

For an O-1B, you must also show that you have received or been nominated for significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field (Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award) or that you meet at least three of the following criteria:

  1. You have 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;
  2. You have has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  3. You have performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  4. You have a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion pictures or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
  5. You have received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged; or,
  6. You have either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field;

Or, comparable evidence.


O-1B Process

To qualify for an O-1B visa, you will need to document proof of your extraordinary ability and that you are at the very top of your field of endeavor. You will need a petitioner, which can either be an employer or an agent. You will need to get an advisory opinion and recommendations from experts in your field.

The initial O-1B petition can be approved for up to three years, depending on the extent of your engagements in the US. If you have a continuing need to engage in long-term assignments, projects, or a group of related performances or activities, you might be able to receive extensions indefinitely.

Currently, USCIS does not cap the number of O-1B visas that are available each year, unlike some other categories of temporary visas.

If you are in athletics, your support personnel might be eligible to enter the US on an O-2 Visa. Your spouse and dependent children might qualify for O-3 visas.

More Information

  • Possible USCIS Fees
    • $325: base fee
      $2,500*: Premium processing service fee

      • *Fee increased October 2020
  • Related Forms
    • Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative
    • Form I-907 Premium Processing Service
    • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
    • O and P Classifications Supplement to Form I-129
  • Steps
    • Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (file at least 45 days before date of employment)
    • I-797 Fee Receipt Notice
    • I-797 Approval Notice
    • Notify Consulate and apply for visa – Foreign worker must obtain a visa (except Canadians) OR Change Status/Extension of Stay
  • Immigrant intent
    • Dual
    • OK to simultaneously seek permanent residence (green card)
  • Approx. USCIS Processing Time
    • 2 weeks
  • Who Qualifies
    • Employers and Employees
    • Talented Individuals
  • Period of Stay
    • Initial petition: up to 3 years
    • Unlimited extensions