O-1 visas are issued to individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. O-1 visas may also be granted to those who have records of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture, television, or fashion industry.
In order to qualify for an O-1 visa, the applicant must:
A Consultation Letter is a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiary’s respective field.
Employment Contract or job offer
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 is always required by USCIS.
Itineraries of events
The petitioner must establish that the beneficiary will participate in events or activities that are related to the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary ability. The itineraries usually include an explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and printouts of any related material about the events.
Evidence of extraordinary ability
The beneficiary will need to submit sufficient evidence to prove their ability or experience meets the O-1 visa requirements.
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 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 are 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.
Are there any exceptions to the consultation letter requirement? Yes, 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.