An O-1 visa is a useful tool for those foreign nationals with extraordinary ability who wish to work in the United States. However, there are some common misconceptions.
With very few exceptions, nearly every work visa in the United States must be tied to a specific employer. An O-1 sponsor does not have to be an employer in the strictest sense. An individual can work for an agent and then perform work for multiple clients through that agent. However, if an individual wishes to work for multiple employers or multiple agents, they would have to be sponsored under multiple concurrent petitions. In addition, if an O visa holder wishes to change employers, they would have to file a new petition sponsored by the new employer.
While sometimes referred to as an “artist” visa, O-1 visas are available to individuals who possess extraordinary ability in any field. O-1A visas are available for those individuals who possess extraordinary ability in science, education, business, and athletics. O-1B visas are for those with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
Foreign nationals seeking an O-1 visa cannot sponsor themselves. The O-1 visa petition must be sponsored by a United States agent or employer.
If you will be performing any productive work in the United States, even if it is only for a few days, you will need a work visa. This is true even if you are working for a foreign company and are being paid outside of the United States. The determination on whether a foreign national needs a work visa is not determined by the length of time. If productive work is taking place in the United States, then a work visa is generally required.
Sometimes an O-1 visa holder may wish to change employers. If that is the case, the O-1 visa does not transfer to the new employer. The new employer will have to petition for a new O visa for the individual.
If you are thinking of petitioning for an O visa, you should consult with an experienced visa attorney who can think outside the box. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the application process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.