O-1 Visas Lawyers in Seattle

Helping Clients With Extraordinary Abilities Obtain a Temporary Work Visa to the United States

If you are an individual with extraordinary abilities in certain areas such as arts, science, sports, or performing arts and wish to come to the United States to work in your area of expertise for a limited period of time, the O-1 visa may be a feasible option. Learn more about how the O-1 visa works, who can apply for it, and how an immigration lawyer can play a critical role in helping you with the application process. If you want to work in the United States and are not sure about which visa type may be right for you, consult the immigration attorneys at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC by calling 206-558-6288.

What Is an O-1 Visa?

O-1 is a non-immigrant work visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, visual arts, education, business, or athletics. To qualify for an O-1 visa, you must demonstrate extraordinary ability by “sustained national or international acclaim.” In addition, you must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue to work in your area.

The O-1 visa has a few different subcategories. The O-1A visa is for those with extraordinary abilities in the field of sciences, education, business, or athletics. In contrast, the O-1B is for individuals with extraordinary abilities in arts or extraordinary achievements in the television and motion picture industries. The O-1 gives you three years of work authorization in the United States that can be renewed indefinitely.

Who Can Apply for an O-1 Visa?

As mentioned above, the O-1 non-immigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or television. In other words, you don’t have to meet a minimum salary requirement, hold a college degree, receive an Academy Award, or be a Nobel Laureate or rock star to get the O-1 approved. Instead, you have to show that you have an extraordinary ability by meeting specific criteria. Distinguished entrepreneurs, researchers, engineers, startup founders, athletes, models, artists, and other creatives are eligible to apply.

In addition, other professionals such as startup founders, entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, key employees, managers, directors, software developers, engineers, researchers, photographers, UX designers, fashion designers and stylists, marketing and branding professionals, public relations directors, athletes and coaches, chefs and sommeliers, lecturers, artists, architects, entertainers, gallery owners, agents, producers, athletes are welcome to apply if they meet specific O-1(A) criteria. It is worth noting that as an entrepreneur, you may still qualify as having extraordinary ability – even if your startup is only in the seed stage currently.

What Is Considered an Extraordinary Ability, and How Can You Prove It?

Extraordinary ability in business, science, education, or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that you are at the very top of your field. It generally means that you are an expert and have received national or international recognition in your area. You are eligible if you have received a significant award (at the caliber of an Olympic Medal or Nobel prize) or can provide evidence to document at least three of the following criteria:

  • Membership in an association that requires distinguished achievements (a startup accelerator, an invitation-only business organization, a labor union of designers);
  • Mentions in major media or trade publications about you or your work;
  • Judging other professionals in your field (peer-reviewing scholarly work of others, serving on a panel, judging a competition like Startup Weekend, or mentoring other professionals);
  • The original contribution of major significance in your field (you have created an innovative startup or have discoveries in the scientific field);
  • Authorship of scholarly articles published in leading media, a professional journal or trade publication;
  • You are a “critical” or “essential” employee (you currently or have in the past played a crucial role in an organization with a distinguished reputation);
  • High salary and other compensation, such as equity, as compared to your peers;
  • National or international awards.

In contrast, extraordinary ability in the arts means distinction evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition to the extent that you are prominent, renowned, or well-known – nationally or internationally.

To qualify for an O-1 visa as a TV or motion picture professional, you must demonstrate outstanding achievement, meaning a degree of skill and recognition significantly above what you would normally encounter in your field. In other words, you are recognized as notable, outstanding, or leading in the motion picture or television field. The documentation for an O-1B (Arts) petition must prove that you have been nominated or received a significant national/international award. Alternatively, you need to prove that you fulfill the following criteria:

  • You have achieved recognition and commercial or critically acclaimed success (your evidence includes publications in media, ratings, and testimonials of experts);
  • You obtained (or will command) a higher salary than others in the field (evidenced by contracts);

You have performed and will perform:

  • in a leading role;
  • in critically acclaimed films, plays, or other events/productions;
  • for a prestigious organization.

Before starting your application, it may be a good idea to consult with a skilled O-1 visa lawyer to ensure you meet all the eligibility requirements.

How Do You Apply for an O-1 Visa?

In order to file for an O-1 visa, a job offer from an American employer is a basic requirement, as your employer will need to file a petition on your behalf. A U.S. employer, agent, or foreign employer through a U.S. agent should file Form I-129 not later than 45 days before the start date of employment. Independently filing this visa petition and petitioning for yourself is not allowed. You will also need to be prepared to show evidence of your accomplishments as defined by the eligibility criteria listed on the USCIS website.

The attorneys at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC have helped countless clients obtain an O-1 visa, and we are ready to help you, too. We can assist you with every aspect of preparing and filing your application so you can maximize your chances of success. Contact us today at 206-558-6288 to learn more.

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