What is an O-1 Visa?

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for People possessing extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics or who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

What are the Types of O Visas?

There are four types of visas available to artists and creatives and their families.

  • O-1A: People with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. This category does not include the arts, motion pictures, or television industry.
  • O-1B: People with extraordinary ability or achievement in the arts, motion picture, or television industry.
  • O-1: Less commonly known is the O-1 visa, which is available for entrepreneurs and business owners and allows them to establish a United States company.
  • O-2: People who will accompany an artist or athlete under an O-1 visa to assist in a specific event or performance. Accompaniment under the O-1A visa requires that the O-2 applicant be an “integral part” of the activity of the person under the O-1A visa. Accompaniment under the O-1B visa requires that the O-2 applicant be “essential” to the completion of the production of the person under the O-1B visa. The O-2 worker must have critical skills and experience with the person under the O-1, which cannot be readily performed by a United States worker and are essential to the performance of the person under the O-1 visa.
  • O-3: People who are the spouses or children of People applying or in possession of an O-1 or O-2 visa.

What is the Eligibility Criteria for an O-1 Visa?

In order to receive permission to work in the United States temporarily, an applicant must sustain international or national recognition demonstrating extraordinary ability.

  • In the fields of science, education, business, or athletics, extraordinary ability refers to a level of expertise that indicates that the applicant is among the top percent in the field.
  • Pertaining to the fields of arts, extraordinary ability means distinction or being substantially recognized and well-known in the field.
  • Regarding motion pictures or the television industry, the applicant must possess a degree of skill and recognition that indicates outstanding notoriety and achievement in the field.

Applicants who have won major, internationally recognized awards, such as the Nobel Prize, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Director’s Guild Award, Pulitzer Prize, or other equivalents, are immediately eligible for an O-1 visa.

Other applicants can apply for an O-1A visa as long as three of the following criteria are met:

  • Received national or international recognition through major internationally recognized awards or prizes in the field.
  • Member of a prestigious association in the field
  • There is major media coverage or major trade publications about the achievements in the field.
  • Has made an original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contribution of major significance in the field
  • Has written and published scholarly articles in professional journals or major media in the field
  • Commands a higher salary compared to peers in the same field
  • Served as a judge in a contest evaluating others’ work in the field
  • Served in a critical role or critical and essential capacity as an employee or a prestigious organization in the field

Applicants can apply for an O-1B visa as long as three of the following criteria are met:

  • Has and will perform as a lead or starring act in productions or events with a distinguished reputation as indicated through critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or other endorsements
  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements as indicated by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
  • Has and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments with a distinguished reputation as indicated by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials
  • Has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success as indicated by the 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
  • Has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field, while testimonials clearly indicate the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements
  • High salary or other remuneration for services in relation to others in the field as indicated by contracts or other reliable sources

What Documentation is Needed for an O Visa?

Documentation that is needed from an employer to apply for an O-1 visa is a written contract or summary of an oral contract containing:

  • What was offered by the employer
  • What was accepted by the applicant
  • Prospective itineraries outlining begin and end dates for events or activities

Additional documentation needed includes:

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of Form I-94
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copies of educational certificates
  • University transcripts
  • Licenses
  • Resumes

How Long Does the O-1 Visa Last?

This type of visa is initially awarded for three years, after which an extension may be requested yearly. To renew the O-1 Visa, the applicant must submit the following documents to continue the same event of activity:

  • Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
  • A copy of the beneficiary’s Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record
  • Supporting documents, such as a statement from the applicant explaining the reasons for the extension

To qualify for an extension, the applicant’s spouse and children must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit any supporting document.

Do I Need an Attorney?

The United States visa process is notoriously difficult. Let us handle these complexities for you. Call Stelmakh & Associates, LLC, today at 206-605-0550 or fill out a contact form for a consultation.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Just enter your email to receive immigration updates

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Skip to content