O Visa Overview: O-1A, O-1B, O-2 and O-3

Home » O Visa Overview: O-1A, O-1B, O-2 and O-3

O Visa Attorneys in Silicon Valley and New York

High-achieving foreign professionals are presented with unique opportunities to travel to the United States to work on a temporary basis. Every year, thousands of O-category visas are granted to individuals operating in the upper echelon of their respective fields. Obtaining these valuable visas requires a strongly crafted case and a high level of compelling evidence, however, leading many individuals and employers to seek assistance from experienced O-1 visa lawyers

At Alcorn Immigration Law, we prioritize efficiency, transparency, and quality in every aspect of our legal practice. Our immigration attorneys work tirelessly to handle all aspects of the immigration process, including filing, adjusting status, and applying for extensions for existing visas. Through our proven methodology and dedication to the success of our clients, we have achieved results for hundreds of clients across the globe. To discuss your case in greater detail, consider contacting us at +1(855) 546-0015 today.

There are four types of O Visas:

What Is the O-1A Visa?

Individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics may pursue this visa to work in the United States on a temporary basis. This visa is a particularly attractive option because, unlike other categories, there is no cap on the number of O-1A visas that can be granted in a year. This means that the O-1A visa timeline is typically faster than other visa categories, assuming the individual meets the strict eligibility requirements to qualify for this visa category.

The terminology of “extraordinary ability” implies that a foreign professional is among the small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of their respective fields. This can be proven through the acquisition of an international award, including the Nobel Prize or the Turing Prize, for example. Otherwise, O-1A visa applicants must prove that they meet certain criteria, which can include membership in a widely recognized association, participation as a judge in their field, the authoring of academic papers, and/or major media coverage of their work, to name a few.

What Is the O-1B Visa?

Individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or who can demonstrate a high level of achievement in film or television may be eligible for the O-1B visa – a nonimmigrant visa that allows for temporary work in the United States. Eligibility requirements for this visa category necessitate that a person is able to prove that they are operating in the top percentile of their field. Receiving an internationally recognized award such as a Grammy or Oscar is sufficient proof, but individuals may still qualify based on other criteria.

The eligibility criteria for the O-1B visa are relatively flexible, specifically for individuals in the field of the arts. So long as the applicant can provide sufficient “comparable evidence” to the USCIS, they may be able to receive an O-1B visa. This means that your immigration attorney will likely be able to craft a compelling case based on your prospective employee’s unique background and expertise. Applicants in the field of film or television industries have a more structured set of eligibility requirements, which an experienced O-1 visa lawyer can provide further insight into.

O-2 Visa

O-2 status is for individuals who will accompany an O-1B artist or an O-1A athlete. They must assist the principal in a specific event or performance.

O-3 Visa

O-3 status is for individuals who are the spouse and dependent children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

O Visas for Extraordinary Ability and Achievement

If you are an individual with extraordinary achievements in your field and you want to temporarily visit the U.S., you might be eligible for the O visa! O Visas are a great fit for extraordinarily talented individuals, their assistants, and families, to come to the United States temporarily to work in their field.

There are two main types of O Visas:  the right one for you depends on your field of ability.  The O-1A is for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.  The O-1B is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

How do I apply?

You need an employer or agent to apply, and self-petitioning is not possible.  An employer or agent can file Form I-129 on your behalf along with other important documents evidencing your extraordinary ability and other legal requirements.

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible if you can show 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. We recommend that you provide lots of documentation of your previous accomplishments with your petition! 

Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that you are one of a small percentage at the top of your 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.

What is the process?

Think you qualify? Your employer or agent should work with a qualified immigration attorney to prepare and file the application on your behalf. Either you have won a major internationally recognized award, such as an Olympic medal or a Pulitzer Prize, OR you have accomplished at least three of the following:

  • received a nationally recognized prize or award for excellence
  • attained membership in associations that require outstanding achievements of their members in a particular field of expertise, as judged by recognized national or international experts
  • been the subject of published material in professional or major trade publications or major media (regarding you and your work)
  • participated, on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in your field
  • made an original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contribution of major significance to the field
  • authored scholarly articles in professional journals or major media
  • been previously employed in a critical or essential capacity for an organization with a distinguished reputation, or
  • command or have commanded a high salary or other outstanding remuneration for your services.

For the O-1B Extraordinary Ability in the Arts, you will need to show that you have been nominated for or have received significant national or international awards or prizes in a particular field, such as an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award. Alternatively, the employer filing the petition can submit at least three of the following forms of documentation:

  • evidence that the applicant has performed, and will perform, services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publication contracts, or endorsements
  • evidence that the applicant has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the person in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
  • evidence that the applicant has 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
  • evidence that the applicant has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes (as evidenced by the 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
  • evidence that the applicant has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field. Such testimonials must be in a form that clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the applicant’s achievements, and
  • evidence that the applicant has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services, as compared to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

How Long Are O-1 Visas Granted?

Like other visa categories, O-1 visas expire after a certain amount of time. O-1 visas are granted for an initial period of three years. It is possible to apply for extensions for both the O-1A and O-1B visas. The O-1A visa can be extended if needed to accomplish the initial event or activity that the individual traveled to the United States to pursue. In fact, there is no time limit on the duration of the O-1 visas. So long as the work continues, the visa may be extended. 

The O-1 visa can be extended in one-year increments, and the soonest that an extension can be applied for is six months prior to the current expiration date. To apply for an extension of the O-1 visa, the individual’s employer or agent is required to file the Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, a copy of Form 1-94 Arrival/Departure Record, and a statement detailing the reason for an extension. If the USCIS can determine that the applicant has a compelling reason to remain in the United States, they will typically grant the extension. 

How Does the O-1 Visa Differ from the H-1B Visa?

While both the O-1 visa and the H-1B visa are utilized by foreign professionals to work in the United States on a temporary basis, there are key differences between the two categories. Perhaps the most significant difference between the two visa categories is the eligibility criteria. The H-1B visa is designed for individuals performing services in a specialty occupation and requires a certain level of educational attainment. The O-1 visa, on the other hand, is for individuals who exhibit extraordinary ability in their field. There are no educational requirements or limitations placed on occupation. As long as the applicant is operating at the top of their field and can demonstrate their extraordinary abilities and/or achievements, they may be considered for an O-1 visa. 

In addition, there are also nuanced differences in the timeframe for filing petitions with the USCIS, extension requirements, and the option of portability. Portability refers to the ability of the employee to transfer to a new employer. H-1B visa holders are eligible for portability, assuming their new employer submits a petition to the USCIS. O-1 visa requirements necessitate that the new employer files another petition for new employment. For more detailed information regarding which visa category may most effectively further your goals, consider speaking with an experienced O-1 visa lawyer at Alcorn Immigration Law. 

How to Choose the Right Immigration Attorney for Your Needs

The attorney you choose to provide guidance throughout the immigration process can significantly impact the efficiency of your case as well as your prospective employee’s likelihood of approval. The right attorney will work diligently to understand your needs and develop a legal strategy to most effectively optimize your goals and objectives. They will avoid one-size-fits-all methodologies. Rather, they will tailor their approach to your business’s unique background, industry, and professional goals. 

The process of hiring an immigration attorney often involves several conversations and consultations before finding the right legal counsel for you. During these initial conversations, it can be helpful to ask potential O-1 visa lawyers the following questions: 

  • What is your firm’s approval rating for immigration cases? 
  • Do you have experience handling cases similar to mine?
  • What is the anticipated time frame and schedule for my application?
  • How do you plan to mitigate risk during the petition process?
  • What is your typical method of communication with clients?

It is important that you feel comfortable with your attorney and confident in their ability to handle your case efficiently and proficiently. The legal representation you choose can make or break your case, thus having a significant impact on your ability to meet your goals and to gainfully pursue your work in the United States. 

How an Immigration Attorney from Alcorn Immigration Law Can Help You

Above all, our team of experienced O-1 visa lawyers is passionate about overcoming borders, expanding opportunities, and connecting the world through comprehensive immigration services. As the fastest-growing immigration firm in Silicon Valley with offices in New York, we understand the importance of balancing your company’s need for efficiency with your employee’s desire to further their own short- and long-term goals. To get in touch regarding your immigration needs, consider connecting with Alcorn Immigration Law at +1(855) 546-0015 today.