O-1B Visa for Extraordinary Ability in the Arts

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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:

  • 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;
  • You have 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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,
  • 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.

O-1 Visa Change of Status

In some situations, an individual with O-1 visa status may wish to change their status to another nonimmigrant visa category or even pursue permanent residence. This is possible because of the doctrine of dual intent, which allows a foreign national to pursue a Green Card while on O-1 status. This is different from other visas such as the F-1 for students or the J-1 for researchers, trainees, and interns. If you are located in the United States and wish to change your status, you must prove that you:

  • Were admitted into the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, such as the O-1
  • Have not committed a crime or other activity that would impact your eligibility for immigrant benefits
  • Successfully requested a change of status prior to the expiration of your visa while you are maintaining valid status

Benefits of the O-1 Visa Compared to the H-1B and Other Work Visas

The O-1 and H-1B visas have similar eligibility requirements, leading many individuals to ask which visa would be most advantageous to reach their goals. The benefits of obtaining an O-1 visa compared to other work visas, like the H-1B, can be summarized in three main points: 

  • No annual lottery. Every year, no more than 65,000 regular H-1B visas can be granted, and an additional 20,000 in the master’s exemption. The O-1 visa is not subject to any annual quota, however, and any applicant who meets the eligibility requirements may obtain this visa. Therefore, the O-1 is available year-round.
  • Unlimited extensions. The O-1 visa is granted for an initial stay of three years and can be extended in one-year increments. These extensions can be granted indefinitely, assuming the visa holder can prove that an extended stay is necessary to pursue work in their field.
  • No two-year foreign residence requirement. Certain J-1 visa holders, such as interns, researchers, and trainees must return to their home country for two years before filing for a different visa status such as H-1B or L-1, or pursuing permanent residence in the United States. Those who opt for the O-1 visa instead do not risk being subject to this requirement.

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The Alcorn Method

With decades of experience representing startups, founders, and other corporate professionals, we have taken the time to develop our unique approach for handling complex U.S. immigration matters. When working with the O visa attorneys at Alcorn Immigration Law, you can expect high-quality legal counsel following our proven method: 

  • Strategize. What sets us apart is our emphasis on developing a tailored legal strategy for each of our clients. We work to understand the complexities of your work and offer effective solutions to optimize your outcome. 
  • Prepare. Comprehensive preparation is key. We work alongside you to organize all relevant documentation and suggest improvements based on U.S. immigration law and precedence. 
  • File. We will review and file your materials according to the rules and regulations of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or State Department. 
  • Win. The most satisfying part of the process is winning. Although we can’t make any guarantees, with our record of success, we are confident in our ability to win the cases we accept. 

Accomplish, Together

Alcorn Immigration Law was created to transcend borders, expand opportunity, and connect the world by practicing compassionate and visionary immigration law. We are passionate about representing startup founders and entrepreneurs in all matters related to U.S. immigration. Through our creative legal strategizing, we have successfully navigated thousands of complex O visa cases for our clients. With offices in Silicon Valley, CA, and New York, NY, we have the resources available to help you succeed. To learn more about what we can accomplish, together, consider contacting our experienced O visa attorneys at +1(855) 546-0015 today.

More Information

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

      • *Fee increased in 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 the date of employment)
    • I-797 Fee Receipt Notice
    • I-797 Approval Notice
    • Notify Consulate and apply for a visa – Foreign workers 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