O-1 and O-2 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2s assistance must be an integral part of the O-1As activity. For an O-1B, the O-2s assistance must be essential to the completion of the O-1Bs production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1
O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s
General Eligibility Criteria
To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the 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.
To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
Application Process O Visa
The O-1 Visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa and requires the filing of the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129). The petition should not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the aliens services. To avoid delays, the Form I-129 should be filed at least 3 months before the date of employment.
1. Consultation: A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiarys area of ability.
If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiarys area of ability.
Exceptions to the Consultation Requirement:
* If the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, does not exist the decision will be based on the evidence of record.
* A consultation may be waived for an alien with extraordinary ability in the field of arts if the alien seeks readmission to perform similar services within 2 years of the date of a previous consultation.
* Petitioners should submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation with the petition.
2. Contract between petitioner and beneficiary: A copy of any written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed.
3. Itineraries: An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable (see the memorandum Clarifying Guidance on O petition Validity Period link to the right). The petitioner must establish that there are events or activities in the beneficiarys field of extraordinary ability for the validity period requested, e.g. an itinerary for a tour or a series of events.
4. Agents : A U.S. Agent may be the actual employer of the beneficiary, the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary, or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.
Once the visa petition is approved by USCIS, the beneficiary can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa. Department of State (DOS) establishes visa application processing and issuance fees.
Evidentiary Criteria for O-1A
* Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
* Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
* Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
* Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiarys work in the field for which classification is sought
* Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
* Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
* A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
* Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
* Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
Evidentiary Criteria for O-1B
* Evidence that the beneficiary has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Directors Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
* 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
* Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
* 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.
* A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
* Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the authors authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiarys achievements
* A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence
Evidentiary Criteria for O-2
The evidence should establish the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 beneficiary with the O-1 beneficiary and that the beneficiary has substantial experience performing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1.
In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence should establish that significant production has taken place outside the United States and will take place inside the United States, and that the continuing participation of the O-2 beneficiary is essential to the successful completion of the production.
Post Petition Approval
Once the visa petition is approved for O-1/O-2 by USCIS, the beneficiary can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa. Department of State (DOS) establishes visa application processing and issuance fees.
Period of Stay:
Initial Period of Stay can be for up to 3 years
Extensions will be in shorter increments for up to 1 year based on time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity.
As an O nonimmigrant, the beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. The beneficiary may only engage in authorized employment during the validity period of the petition.
Family of O-1 and O-2 Visa Holders
Any accompanying or following to join spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 nonimmigrant. They may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in full or part time study on an O-3 visa.
Kindly contact our office for assistance in preparing and filing the O-1 petition. Please note that the USCIS will hold the Beneficiary (O visa candidate) to a very high standard and a very detailed and thorough application will be needed of the Beneficiarys qualifications to establish why that person is one of extraordinary ability and eligible for the O visa.