O visas are a useful tool for individuals of extraordinary ability who wish to work in the United States. Here are some frequently asked questions:
The O visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to those individuals, and their families and support personnel, who demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
Unlike with an H1-B visa, there is no lottery that an employee has to go through for an O-1 visa. O visas can be issued fairly quickly and are granted for a maximum of three years with unlimited one-year extensions. O-1 visa holders may also pursue permanent residency.
The phrase “extraordinary ability” means that a person has a level of expertise and is one of that small percentage of individuals who have risen to the top of their field of endeavor. An applicant for an O-1 visa must demonstrate that they have sustained national and international acclaim and that their achievements have been recognized in the field. This is done through extensive documentation.
National and international acclaim can be demonstrated through the receipt of a major internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize or an Academy Award. Alternatively, the applicant can provide other types of evidence such as published material in professional or major trade publications and original contributions to the field of major significance.
The individual of extraordinary ability cannot self-petition for an O visa. Only a United States agent or employer can file a petition in the jurisdiction where the individual intends to work.
The period of stay on an O visa is tied to the length of time it takes to provide for the event or activity for which the individual is admitted, up to a three-year period. There may be unlimited one-year extensions.
If you are interested in applying for an O visa, you should consult with an experienced visa attorney. 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.