O visas are for persons who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
O visas are divided into the following subcategories:
- Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1),
- The artist’s or athlete’s support staff (O-2), and
- The O-1 visaholder’s spouse and children) (O-3).
To qualify, the person must be coming to the US to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement. There is no cap on O visas.
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O visas are divided into the following categories:
- General Resources
- O-1 Extraordinary Ability (Science, Education, Business, or Athletics)
- O-1 Extraordinary Ability (Arts, Motion Picture, or Television)
- O-2 Support Personnel
- O-3 Dependents
- O Visas for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (USCIS)
- Success Story: O Visas for an Architect of Extraordinary Ability (December 2013)
- Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for O and P Visa Classification – USCIS (11-20-09)
- Listening Session on O and P Nonimmigrant Classification (9-01-2010)
- Regulations: Petitioning Requirements for the O and P Nonimmigrant Classifications (4-16-07)
- USCIS Draft Memo on Agents Who Serve as O or P Petitioners
O-1 Extraordinary Ability (Science, Education, Business, or Athletics)
The O-1 category applies to aliens coming temporarily who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television).
Petition Document Requirements
A US employer should file the petition (Form I-129) with:
- 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;
- 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;
- Evidence that the alien has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least three of the following:
- 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 international experts;
- Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the alien and his 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.
O-1 Extraordinary Ability (Arts, Motion Picture, or Television)
The O-1 category also applies to aliens who are coming temporarily and have extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
O Visas – Petition Document Requirements
A US employer should file the I-129 petition with:
- If the petition is based on the person’s extraordinary ability in the arts, the consultation must be from a peer group (including labor organizations) in the person’s field of endeavor; or a person or persons designated by the group with expertise in the person’s area of ability.
- If the petition is based on the person’s extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television industry, separate consultations are required from a labor and a management organization with expertise in the person’s field of endeavor.
- Performed or 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 individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
- 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 alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien’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; or
O-2 Support Personnel
The O-2 category applies to persons accompanying an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance. This person 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 be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1.
Petition Document Requirements
The petition must be filed by a US employer in conjunction with the filing of the O-1 petition and must be filed with:
- A written advisory opinion.
- If the O-2 petition is for an alien accompanying an O-1 alien 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 petition is for an alien accompanying an O-1 alien of extraordinary achievement in the field of motion picture or television, the opinion must be from a labor organization and a management organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
- Evidence of the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 visa holder with the O-1 person, and that the person has substantial experience utilizing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1. In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence shall establish that significant production has taken place outside the US, and will take place inside the US and that the continuing participation of the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production.
Spouses and minor children (dependents) of O-1s are admitted under O-3 status with the same restrictions as the principal. They may not work in the US.
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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