Are you a successful individual in the fields of business, science, athletics, or education, looking to work in the United States? The O-1 visa might be the perfect option for you! It is a non-immigrant visa that allows individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements to work in the United States temporarily.
The O-1 visa, also known as the “Extraordinary Ability Visa,” is a non-immigrant work visa that allows highly accomplished individuals in the fields of science, arts, education, athletics, and business to live and work legally in the United States. It is granted to individuals who have achieved national or international recognition for their extraordinary talents and abilities.
In this comprehensive guide, you will understand the O-1 visa application process, requirements, benefits, and much more.
What is O-1 Visa?
It is granted to individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in their field of work. It provides a pathway for talented individuals to come to the United States temporarily and contribute their unique skills and talents to the country.
Different Types of O Visas
O visas are a type of nonimmigrant visa that is granted to individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in various fields, athletes, and entertainment groups. There are different types of O visas and there dependents which includes:
This visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the field of science, education, business or athletics.
This visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the arts, such as music, film, television or theatre.
This visa is for individuals who provide essential support to a person who is granted an O-1 visa. This includes technicians, assistants, and other professionals who are required for the successful completion of a particular project.
This visa is for the dependents of individuals who are granted an O-1 or O-2 visa. This includes spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
NOTE: Each type of O visa has its own specific requirements and application process. O visas are an excellent way for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities to work in the United States and contribute to the American economy.
Who Can Apply for an O-1 Visa?
- Individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.
- The individual must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim in their field of expertise.
There are two categories of O-1 visas:
-> O-1A for those with extraordinary ability in sciences, education, business, or athletics;
-> O-1B for those with extraordinary ability in the arts.
- The applicant must have a U.S. employer or agent acting on their behalf.
- The employer or agent must file a petition with USCIS on behalf of the individual.
- The applicant must have a job offer or plan to work in their field of extraordinary ability in the United States.
- The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, meaning that the individual must demonstrate that they have a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning.
O-1 Visa Requirements
To qualify, individuals must meet certain requirements, including:
1. Extraordinary Ability: The applicant must demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field, as evidenced by national or international acclaim. This can be proven through a variety of means, such as major awards, published articles or books, and evidence of original contributions to the field.
2. Job Offer: The applicant must have a job offer from a U.S. employer, or be planning to work in their field of extraordinary ability in the United States. The job must be in the same field as the applicant’s extraordinary ability.
3. Employer or Agent: The U.S. employer or agent must file a petition on behalf of the applicant with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
4. Advisory Opinion: The applicant must obtain an advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or other recognized expert in the field. The advisory opinion must support the applicant’s claim of extraordinary ability.
5. Duration of Stay: The O-1 visa is typically granted for up to three years, with extensions available.
6. Residency Requirement: The applicant must demonstrate that they have a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning.
7. Family Members: The applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for O-3 visas to accompany the applicant to the United States.
Benefits of an O-1 Visa
- Legal permission to live and work in the United States.
- Opportunity to collaborate and work with highly skilled professionals in their respective fields.
- Flexibility to work and travel within the United States.
- Eligibility to apply for a Green Card, leading to permanent residency.
- Ability to bring spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age to the United States.
The O-1 visa application process involves several steps. These include:
Duration of O-1 Visa
The initial validity of this visa is up to three years. However, the duration depends on the length of the event or project for which the visa is issued. For example, if the visa is issued for a project or event that will take place for six months, then the visa will be valid for six months.
If the O-1 visa holder needs to stay in the US beyond the validity period, they can apply for an extension of stay. The extension can be for up to one year at a time, and there is no limit to the number of extensions that can be obtained, as long as the O-1 visa holder continues to meet the requirements for the visa.
O-1 Visa Cost
The cost varies depending on several factors, such as legal fees, application fees, and other related expenses. The USCIS charges a filing fee of $460 for Form I-129, and there is an additional fee of $500 for the fraud prevention and detection fee.
Documents Required for O-1 Visa
To apply for an O-1 visa, individuals must provide the following supporting documentation:
- Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
- Evidence of extraordinary ability in the field, such as awards, publications, and evidence of original contributions
- A written advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or other recognized expert in the field attesting to the applicant’s extraordinary ability
- A copy of the employment contract or itinerary of the event or project for which the visa is being issued
- Proof of educational qualifications, such as a diploma or degree certificate
- Passport valid for travel to the US
- A passport-style photograph
- Application fee payment
Note: It is important to note that the specific evidence required to demonstrate extraordinary ability will vary depending on the individual’s field of expertise. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that all necessary documents are included in the application.
O-1 Visa to Green Card
Visa holders may apply for permanent residency in the US through employment-based options such as employment sponsorship, a national interest waiver, or the extraordinary ability category. To obtain a green card, the O-1 visa holder must demonstrate that they are admissible to the US and that their permanent residency would be in the national interest, and file a petition with USCIS.
O Visa versus H-1B Visa
Basis of Comparison
Temporary visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in their field
Temporary visa for skilled workers in speciality occupations
Requires extraordinary ability in arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics
Requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized field
Up to 3 years, renewable in 1-year increments
Up to 3 years, with a maximum of 6 years
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may accompany the O-1 visa holder with an O-3 visa
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may accompany the H-1B visa holder with an H-4 visa
Not explicitly allowed, but possible with proper documentation
Allowed, with the intention to adjust status to permanent residency
No annual cap on the number of visas issued
Annual cap on the number of visas issued, subject to the lottery selection
How Kodem Law Can Help You
At Kodem Law, we have a team of experienced immigration attorneys who specialize in handling O-1 visa applications. Our attorneys provide personalized guidance to each client, ensuring that they meet the eligibility criteria and have the necessary supporting documentation to apply for the visa. The Kodem Law team is here to guide you through the application process and help you achieve your goals.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Can O-1 visa holders bring their family members to the U.S.?
A: Yes, O-1 visa holders can bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the U.S. They can apply for an O-3 visa, which allows them to accompany the O-1 visa holder during their stay in the U.S. However, they cannot work in the U.S. under this visa category.
2. Can an O-1 visa holder change employers while in the U.S.?
A: Yes, O-1 visa holders can change employers while in the U.S. However, the new employer must file a new Form I-129 petition with the USCIS and obtain approval before the O-1 visa holder can start working for them. It is also possible for O-1 visa holders to work for multiple employers at the same time, as long as each employer files a separate petition for them.