From Brazilian soccer star Pele to Canadian singer Justin Bieber and South Korean rapper Psy, a long list of celebrities have used the O-1 visa to come to the United States. But how does the O-1 visa really work, and who can apply for it? The attorneys at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC provide the answers you are looking for.

What Is the O-1 Visa, and Who Is It Meant For?

While you do not necessarily need to be rich and famous to obtain an O-1 visa, you do need to be ready to prove that you have extraordinary abilities in sciences, arts, education, or business and have received national or international recognition for your skills. While many international celebrities take advantage of the O-1 to come to the United States, you do not need to be a star or a Nobel Prize winner to apply.

Instead, you need to be ready to show that you have extraordinary abilities in your field by meeting the minimum requirements listed by the USCIS. If you don’t have a major national or international award, such as an Olympic medal, you will need to meet at least three of the criteria listed for the O-1 visa. Some examples of these requirements include showing that you and your work have been mentioned in trade publications or major media outlets or that you have judged other professionals in your field (such as by mentoring others or peer-reviewing scholarly articles). An attorney can help you understand the requirements for an O-1 visa and can assist you in preparing your application with all necessary supporting documents.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa provides foreign nationals with a number of advantages that far outweigh the disadvantages. For starters, the number of O-1s is not limited – there is no annual lottery, unlike other visa categories such as the H1B. In addition, there are no industry requirements, no salary minimums, and no required university degree. If you pay the expedited processing fee, O visa petitions can be approved by the U.S. Immigration Services within 15 days of applying.

There are also a few disadvantages you should be aware of. First, the O-1 visa only lasts for three years. While it can be periodically renewed without a limit to the number of times you can apply for renewal, there is always a chance that the USCIS may decide your O-1 visa should end. You are also limited to working for a certain employer, position, or activity and may not freely move from job to job. Finally, the O-1 visa criteria are somewhat subjective, making applications and renewals somewhat difficult.

Can an O-1 Visa Holder Obtain a Green Card?

The O-1A is valid for three years. After that, you can apply for unlimited extensions. The O-1 may offer a direct path to permanent residency (Green Card) via an EB-1A immigrant visa petition based on extraordinary ability.

The EB-1A is an employment-based first preference immigrant visa (EB-1A) that may be appropriate for you if you wish to continue living and working in the United States permanently and meet all eligibility criteria. Consult an attorney to determine if you qualify for a green card and define the best approach for your case.

How Can I Prepare For an O-1 Application?

If you are thinking of applying for an O-1, it is important to know that this type of visa requires a lot of evidence, so being organized is key. Document all your professional accomplishments, awards, speaking assignments, original written material, and publications about your work or business.

You may also want to prepare a detailed CV that lists your education, work history, area of expertise, and other accomplishments, such as awards, publications, expert engagements, mentorship, and any instances you judged. Next, compile a list of people who would be willing to write recommendation letters for you. Ask for their CVs or print their LinkedIn profiles. Describe each person’s area of expertise and what each of them can say about you. Finally, contact the O-1 visa attorneys at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC, for help with your visa application process. Call us at 206-558-6288 to get started.

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