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Work Visas

O-1 Visas: Immigration Options for the Extraordinary

O-1 visas are set aside for individuals who are the best of the best. Though one of the most selective and complex U.S. visas to receive, there were over 20,000 new O-1 visas issued in 2014 alone.

What is an O-1 Visa?

An O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for individuals who possess extraordinary ability. The field of extraordinary ability for an O-1 visa is divided into two classifications: O-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry) O-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry

Who qualifies for an O-1 visa?

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O-1A : A foreign national may qualify for an O-1A visa if he is she has:

O-1B: Similarly, and foreign national may qualify for an O-1B visa if he or she has:

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How to Apply for an O-1 Visa?

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The application must also contain a contract between the employer and prospective foreign employee as well as an itinerary detailing the nature and dates of the events or activities during the O-1 period. As a practical matter, an employer that sponsors the foreign national should have some expertise in that field. Information about the employer, including some financial information, will also be included. O-1 visa petitions may utilize the Premium Processing service- meaning a decision can be made within 15 days! Upon approval, the O-1 beneficiary may receive his or her visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or may seek a Change of Status within the U.S.

How long is an O-1 visa valid?

USCIS will issue an O-1 visa for an initial period of up to 3 years. After 3 years, the O-1 period may be extended in 1 year increments so long as it is demonstrated that the foreign national’s continued presence is still required to complete the event or activity for which they were originally admitted. O-1 visa holders may also seek a change of employment if they change employers.

Can an O-1 lead to a Green Card?

What options are there for supporting Personal and Family Members of O-1 visa holders?

Assistants and other individuals that may accompany an O-1 visa holder may apply for an O-2 Visa to assist in a specific event or performance.
For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1. An O-2 visa must be petitioned for in conjunction with the services of the O-1 artistic or athletic alien. Spouses and children (under age 21) of O-1’s and O-2’s may petition to receive an O-3 Visa. O-3 holders may not work in the United States but they may engage in full or part time study.
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