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 ability 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 the particular field, such as an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award. Alternately, 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 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.
TWO ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES OF O VISAS ARE:
O-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance
How do I get it?
Your employer or agent must file form I-129 along with that of the O-1 applicant.
What is the process?
You will need to include documentation providing your role/relationship to the O-1 artist or athlete and the specific event or performance in which you will be participating.
O-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.
How do I get it?
Once the O-1 or O-2 visas are approved, the spouses and children of the visa holders are also eligible to obtain a visa stamp or O-3 status along with the primary applicant.
We Can Help
Applying for an O-1 visa is complex. The Alcorn Immigration Law team can help.