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O-1 For Aliens Of Extraordinary Abilities

NOTE:  The O-1 visa is a temporary work visa available to foreign nationals who have “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.”
NOTE:  The O-1 visa is also available to those in motion pictures and television who can demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement.”
NOTE:  The requirement includes most creative fields, including make-up artists, set designers, choreographers, photographers, and carpenters.
NOTE:  The O-1 visa is a great way for established foreign artists to bring their talents to U.S. markets. O-1 visas are valid for up to three years and may be extended in one year increments for ongoing projects.

Qualifications for O-1 Visa
Applicants for O-1 visas must demonstrate that they possess extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, athletics, or the motion picture or television industry. The applicant must show that s/he has achieved sustained or international acclaim and an extraordinary record of achievement. The applicant must demonstrate that s/he is coming to the United States to perform temporary services for a U.S. employer relating to an event or series of events. An O-1 visa applicant must be petitioned by a U.S. company, or a U.S. agent. O-1 applicants may not self-petition.

Evidence for O-1 Visa Petitions
To demonstrate international recognition and extraordinary ability in the business or sciences, the O-1 visa applicant may provide evidence that s/he is the winner of an internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or by demonstrating at least three of the following:

  • Internationally or nationally recognized prizes or awards
  • Published material about your work
  • Membership in an association that requires members to have outstanding achievementOriginal scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles published in any type of major media or professional journals
  • High salary or any other type of compensation
  • Participation on a panel, or as a judge for other people’s works
  • Evidence of past employment for organizations or establishments that have a high reputation.

To demonstrate international recognition and extraordinary ability in the arts and motion pictures and television, the O-1 visa applicant may also provide evidence that s/he is the winner of an internationally-recognized award, such as an Academy Award or a Grammy, or by demonstrating at least three of the following:

  • Lead or starring role for productions or events with distinguished reputations
  • National or International recognition demonstrated by published material about your work
  • Lead, starring, or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputation
  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success
  • Significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field
  • High salary in relation to others in the field.

If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation, you may submit comparable evidence in order to establish your eligibility. All applicants will also need to provide a contract between you and your employer. An itinerary of scheduled projects and events is also recommended.

Other Important Information for O Visa Applicants
Accompanying performers to an O-1 visa holder and assisting in the performance may be able to obtain an O-2 visa. To qualify for an O-2 visa, the assistant must show that s/he is integral to the performance(s); s/he has critical skills and experience that cannot be performed by another U.S. worker; and has a long-standing working relationship with the O-1 alien.

Dependents of O Visa Holders (the O-3 visa)
Spouses and children of an O-1 visa holder are eligible for O-3 visa status. Dependents may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college.

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