Overview of O-1 Visa
The O non-immigrant visa is a temporary visa for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or who have extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. O-1 visas are initially granted for three years. There are two types of O-1 visas:
- O-1A Visas
Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
- O-1B Visas
Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
O-2 visas are issued to individuals who will accompany the O-1 artist or athlete, 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-2s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s productions.
Qualifying for the O-1A Visa (For Science, Education, Business, or Athletics)
O-1A visas are for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business and athletics. The foreign national must demonstrate that he/she is at the top of his/her respective field. This may be established by providing evidence of receipt of a major, internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least three (3) of the following types of evidence:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
- Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
- Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
- A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
- Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
If the above criteria do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility.
Qualifying for the O-1B Visa (For the Arts or The Motion Picture or Television Industry)
O-1B visas are for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the arts or the motion picture or television industry. The petition must include evidence that the foreign national has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
- Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements
- A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence
If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility (this exception does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).
To learn more about your options contact our San Francisco law firm to speak with one of our immigration attorneys.