O1 Visa

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The O visa categories include:

  • O-1A Visa: Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.
  • O-1B Visa: Extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.
  • O-2 Visa: Critical skills and essential support services for the O-1.
  • O-3 Visa: Family members of O-1 or O-2.

O1 Visa

The O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for those who possess 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 and have been recognized nationally or internationally for their achievements.

The two types of O visa include:

  • O-1A Visa: Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.
  • O-1B Visa: Extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.

O1 Visa Duration

The O visa is granted for an initial period of stay of up to three years and may be extended in one year increments. O visa holders may only enter the US to perform services in specific, identified events; they may not take up freelance work or assignments. Therefore, the individual will only be admitted to the US for a time period adequate to accomplish the event or activity mentioned in their petition. 

O1 Visa Eligibility

Individuals who are eligible to apply for an O-1 visa must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics (O-1A visa), or in the arts or motion picture/television industry (O-1B visa).

These individuals include those who possess a level of expertise in their field, are well known or recognized for their achievements, or are recognized as outstanding or notable in their work.

Applying for O1 Visa

To apply for an O1 visa, individuals who meet the O1 visa eligibility requirements must complete the following application steps.

The petitioner must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. Applicants should file at least 45 days before their start date of employment and should not file more than one year before they are to begin employment.

The petitioner must submit the following documentation:

  • Consultation from a peer group of the applicant (such as a labor organization) or from someone who possesses expertise in the applicant’s field or area of ability. In some cases, the consultation requirement may be waived.
  • Copy of the written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary (applicant) outlining the terms of the beneficiary’s employment. This should be a summary of the oral agreement of the terms of employment, including 1) what was offered by the employer and 2) what was accepted by the employee.
  • Itineraries of the planned events or activities to be performed by the beneficiary during their O-1 visa validity period. Itineraries must demonstrate that there are events or activities planned throughout the requested validity period of the beneficiary’s O-1 visa.

Agents petitioning on behalf of the beneficiary must provide documentation based on their specific role as an agent. Agents may be:

  • The actual employer of the beneficiary;
  • The representative of both the employer and the beneficiary; or
  • Someone authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.

Further details about requirements for O1 visa itineraries and agents.

O2 Visa

The O-2 nonimmigrant visa is meant for individuals who will accompany the O-1 visa holder to assist in specific events or performances.

  • For the O-1A, the O-2 applicant must be an integral part of the O-1A’s activity.
  • For the O-1B, the O-2 applicant must be essential to the completion of the O-1B’s production.

The idea behind the O-2 is that it is for a worker who has critical skills and experience that cannot be performed by an American worker.

O3 Visa

Family members of O-1 and O-2 visa holders including spouses and children under the age of 21 may accompany the O-1 or O-2 visa holder to the US on an O-3 visa. O-3 visa holders:

  • May study full-time or part-time in the US, but may not work in the US.
  • May only stay in the US for the duration of the O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s period of admission.

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