O-1 Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

O-1 visas are issued to foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. These visas allow you to stay in the U.S. for up to 3 years, depending on the timing of the event you will participate. Spouses and children of O-1 or O-2 holders can also travel to the U.S. with O-3 visas. To qualify for an O-1 visa, you must be coming to the United States to perform services in your area of achievement and have a contract in place with an employer or agent.  Individuals with national or international recognition, those with critical skills and experience, or the integral part of a team may, also, obtain O-1 visa. 

Benefits

Eligibility

To be eligible for an O visa, the following requirements must be satisfied:

  • The petitioner must be a U.S.-based agent or an employer
  • The beneficiary (person who will receive the visa) must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim
  • The beneficiary must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability
  • An agreement must exist between the petitioner and beneficiary

Process

We offer in-depth consultations to make sure of your eligibility.  Having your petition prepared by a qualified immigration attorney can help prevent unfavorable outcomes and reduce delays caused by improperly or incompletely prepared petitions. 

A consultation letter is a document that the beneficiary must provide as part of the O-1 visa petition. This will generally consist of a written advisory opinion from a peer group related to their field of expertise or from an individual selected by the peer group with expertise in the area. The advisory opinion may also come from labor organizations. In the case of applicants with expertise in the television or film industry, the consultation may come from a labor union or other organization with expertise in the respective field.

In some circumstances, USCIS may waive the consultation requirement. Contact us to find out whether your profession is eligible for a waiver.

In some circumstances, the consultation requirement may be waived. Contact us to find out whether your profession is eligible for a waiver.

Once it has been determined that you meet the requirements, one of our attorneys will complete your forms and gather the necessary supporting documents. We will also help you prepare supporting letters and obtain legal documents if required. Our office will also provide you with the required templates and sample documents.

We will prepare a complete and robust petition and file it with the appropriate office on your behalf.  Once the petition is delivered to USCIS, a receipt notice will be issued to notify the parties that the petition is under review. 

After the initial review, USCIS officers may issue a request for additional evidence if there is any insufficiency with your petition. Our office rarely receives a request for further evidence as our attorneys always ensure to include all the supporting documents you need for a solid and complete petition.

After finishing the above steps, USCIS will conduct a final review of your petition and issue the decision notice.  

If the beneficiary is in the United States and holds a lawful immigration status, they do not need to request a visa. Essentially, the beneficiary’s immigration status will be adjusted to O-1 status classification and can stay in the United States for the duration of the new authorized stay.

However, if the beneficiary is in a foreign country, they must request a visa from a consulate of their choice. This process is called consular processing, which requires filing Form DS-160 and attending a visa interview. Once the consulate post officer determines the beneficiary’s eligibility, an O-1 visa will be issued, and the beneficiary can later travel to the United States as a non-immigrant worker.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does it mean to have “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 as a renowned, leading, or well-known person in arts.  In the motion picture or television industry, it means a national or international recognition as an outstanding, notable or leading  person in the motion picture and television field.

Can I still qualify for a visa if I don’t have a signed contract yet?

USCIS will accept an oral contract, as evidenced by emails between the contractual parties, any written materials discussing of the terms of the agreement, or any other evidence that demonstrates that an agreement was created.  The summary of the terms of the oral agreement must contain: 1-What was offered by the employer; and 2-What was accepted by the employee .  The summary does not have to be signed by both parties to establish an agreement. 

Can I have my agent sponsor me for an O visa?

Yes, provided your agent can provide USCIS with a contractual agreement between you and your agent that specifies the wage offered and other terms and conditions of the representation.

If you will be working in more than one location, the petition must also include an itinerary with the dates and locations of work. The itinerary should at a minimum indicate what type of work you will be engaged, where, and when this work will take place.

Can I work for a different employer once I’m in the United States under O-1 status?

If you are an O-1 nonimmigrant in the United States and you want to change employers, then your new employer or agent must file a Form I-129 with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. USCIS will update your employment information and extend your stay if needed. 

What happens to my O visa status if my plans change once I’m in the United States or if I’m terminated?

If there has been any material change in the terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the petitioner must file an amendment petition with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.

If the employment of an O nonimmigrant beneficiary is terminated for reasons such as voluntary resignation, the employer/agent and you must notify USCIS.  You must also leave the United States or immediately adjust or change your status. 

What is a Consultation Letter?

A consultation letter is a document that the applicant must provide as part of the O visa petition. This will generally consist of a written advisory opinion from a peer group related to your field of expertise, or from an individual selected by the peer group that also has expertise in the field. The advisory opinion may also come from labor organizations. In the case of applicants with expertise in the television or film industry the consultation may come from a labor union or other organization with expertise in the respective field

In some circumstances, the consultation requirement may be waived. Contact an attorney to find out whether your profession is eligible for a waiver.