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O-1/O-2 Visas

NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS FOR PERSONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY

(O-1/O-2)
The ‘O’ visa is granted to applicants who seek to work temporarily in the United States in a particular field in which they have an ‘Extraordinary Ability’. The most common fields for extraordinary ability classification are in the areas of the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics.
 
O-1A VISA
The O-1A visa is given to a person who demonstrates extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, athletics or business, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.
 
The petition for an O-1 visa must be filed by a U.S. employer. If the employer is a foreign entity or the applicant is self-employed, then the application must be filed through an authorized US agent.

Sciences, Education, Athletics or Business
‘Extraordinary Ability’ in science, education, business or athletics is defined as ‘a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor’.
 
Documents Required
The petition for an O visa must be filed by a U.S. employer and be accompanied by:
  1. A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the alien's area of ability;
  2. A copy of any written contract between the employer and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed;
  3. Proof that the applicant has sustained national or international acclaim by showing:
  • Receipt of a one-time achievement of a major, internationally recognized award. (e.g. Nobel Prize)
Or documentation of at least 3 of the following factors:
  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.
  • Membership in an association in the field, which requires outstanding achievements as judged by recognized national or international experts.
  • Published material about the applicant in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to the applicant’s work in the field for which classification is sought.
  • Participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the field of the applicant’s expertise.
  • Significant contributions of original work in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  • Evidence of displays of the applicant’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Evidence that the applicant has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations, establishments, or productions that have a distinguished reputation.
  • Evidence that the applicant has commanded a high salary or other high remuneration for services or evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disc or video sales.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation, he or she may submit comparable evidence to establish his or her eligibility.
 
Supporting Documents Required for Business Applicants
To demonstrate that an applicant is pre-eminent in a business field, it must be shown that he or she has achieved at least three of the following:
  • Has managed a business worth at least $10 million.
  • Has had at least 10 progressive years of responsible work experience culminating in a high-level or technical position with considerable responsibilities.
  • Has a salary of at least $75,000/-.
  • Oversees a sizable workforce, including professionals and managers.
  • Has developed a system or product of major significance.
  • Has made a significant contribution to the industry as documented by experts
     
Applicants in the Arts
‘Extraordinary Ability’ in the arts means ‘distinction,’ that is ‘a high level of achievement in the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered…’ This category requires the petitioner to establish only that the artist is prominent in his or her field of endeavor.
 
The term ‘arts’ is broadly defined to include any field of creative activity or endeavor including, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts and performing arts, but does not include individuals affiliated with the motion picture or TV industry.

Documents Required
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The petition for an O-1 visa must be filed by a U.S. employer and be accompanied by:
  1. A written advisory opinion, describing the alien’s ability, from a peer group (including labor organizations) in the applicant's field of endeavor; or a person or persons designated by the group with expertise in the applicant's area of ability;
  2. A copy of a written contract between the employer and the applicant or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the applicant will be employed;
  3. Proof that the applicant has sustained national or international acclaim by showing:
  • Receipt of a one-time achievement, i.e., a major, internationally recognized award. (e.g. Grammy Award).

Or documentation of at least 3 of the following factors:

  • Evidence to show leading participation in productions or events with distinguished reputations as shown by critical reviews, advertising, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements.
  • Evidence to show national or international recognition for achievements through critical reviews or other published materials by or about the applicant in major media or trade publications.
  • Evidence to show that the applicant has performed in a lead, starring or crucial role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  • Evidence that the applicant has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success.
  • Evidence that the applicant has achieved significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, or recognized experts.
  • Evidence of display of the applicant’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Evidence that the applicant has commanded or will command a high salary or other remuneration in relation to others in the field.
  • Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disc or video sales.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation, he/she may submit comparable evidence to establish his/her eligibility.
 
O-1B VISA
The O-1B visa is issued to persons who are involved in the motion picture and television industry and who have ‘a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement’ and can prove it through extensive documentation.
 
In the motion picture and television industry, extraordinary achievement means a ‘very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered…’ The person must be ‘outstanding or notable’, and must ‘meet a higher standard’.

 
Documents Required
The petition for qualification of an individual of extraordinary achievement must be filed by a US employer and be accompanied by:
  1. Separate written advisory opinions from a labor organization and a management organization with expertise in the applicant's field of endeavor;
  2. A copy of a written contract between the employer and the applicant or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the applicant will be employed;
  3. Proof that the applicant has sustained national or international acclaim by showing:
  • Receipt of a one-time achievement of a major, internationally recognized award. (e.g. Academy or Emmy Award)
Or documentation of at least 3 of the following criteria:
  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.
  • Membership in an association in the field, which requires outstanding achievement, as judged by recognized national or international experts.
  • Published material regarding the applicant in professional or major trade publications or other major media relating to the applicant’s work in the field for which the O-1 classification is sought.
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same field or an allied field.
  • Significant contributions of original work in the field of specialization.
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications, or other major media.
  • Evidence of the display of the applicant’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Evidence that the applicant has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations, establishments, or productions that have a distinguished reputation.
  • Evidence that the applicant has commanded a high salary or other high remuneration for services or evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as demonstrated by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disc or video sales.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the applicant’s occupation, he or she may submit comparable evidence to establish his or her eligibility.
 
O-2 VISA – Support Personnel
The O-2 visa is issued to individuals who wish to accompany or assist in the specific artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 visa holder.
 
The O-2 visa applicant would be acting as an essential and integral part of the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 artist or athlete because he or she performs support services which cannot readily be performed by a US worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1 visa holder. O-2 visas generally are not available if the O-1 holder works in the fields of science, business, or education.
 
There can be more than one person who may be granted an O-2 visa under the umbrella of a single O-1 visa holder.
The O-2 visa applicant must comply with the following requirements:
  1. He or she is entering the US solely for the purpose of accompanying the O-1 visa holder.
  2. He or she must be an integral part of the actual performance.
  3. He or she must have critical skills and experience with the O-1 visa holder, which are not of a general nature and cannot be performed by US workers.
  4. He or she has a foreign residence which he or she does not intend to abandon.

Documents Required
The O-2 visa petition must be filed by a US employer in conjunction with the filing of the O-1 visa petition and must be accompanied by:
  1. A written advisory opinion:
If the O-2 visa petition is for an individual accompanying an O-1 individual of extraordinary ability in the arts, the opinion must be from a labor organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
If the O-2 visa petition is for an individual accompanying an O-1 individual of extraordinary achievement in the field of motion pictures or television, the opinion must be from a labor organization and a management organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
  1. Evidence to prove requirements 1 – 4 specified above.
  2. In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence should establish that significant production has taken place outside the US, and will take place inside the US, and that the continuing participation of the applicant is essential to the successful completion of the production.

O-3 VISA – Family

The O-3 visa is issued to spouses and minor dependent children of the O-1 visa holder. It does not allow the individual to work in the United States and is valid for the same duration as the principal O-1 visa holder.
 
DURATION OF ‘O’ VISAS
The period of authorized stay for O Visas is the duration of the event or events for which the visa was issued to the applicant, but in no event for a period of more than three years. Extensions to continue or complete the same events may be obtained for one year at a time. If the applicant files an application for an extension before his or her authorized stay expires, he or she automatically would be permitted to continue working for up to 240 days while waiting for a decision.