USA and the UK
- What is the O1 Visa?
- What are the O1 Visa tiers?
- What classifies as “extraordinary ability”?
- What are the O-1 Visa requirements?
- How to apply for an O1 Visa?
- How long can you stay in the U.S. with an O1 Visa?
- Can I move from an O-1 Visa to an EB-1 Green Card?
- How much does an O1 visa cost?
- What is the O1 Visa processing time?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the O1 Visa?
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is tailored to individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in specific fields such as the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Individuals who have been recognized nationally or internationally for their extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television industry are also eligible for the O1 Visa.
The O1 visa is a dual intention permit which means that the visa holder may change adjust their status from an O1 visa to a Green Card for permanent residence in the United States. Those who receive permanent resident status may be able to submit Green Card petitions for their family.
What are the O1 Visa tiers?
In the O nonimmigrant visa classification, there are 4 tiers which are as follows:
- O-1A visa (for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics )
- O-1B visa (for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or individuals who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry)
- O-2 visa (for individuals who intend to accompany and assist an O-1 artist or athlete in a specific event or performance)
- O-3 visa (for spouses and minor children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders)
What classifies as “extraordinary ability”?
The law regards “extraordinary ability” as a higher level of expertise that is common only to a small percentage of professionals. The legal definition of “extraordinary ability” applies to several industries. However, it refers only to professionals who have a predominant role in their field of expertise.
In order to be classified as someone with “extraordinary ability”, you must demonstrate a certain degree of distinction. Your skills must get recognition and your competence should be described as leading and well-known in your field.
What are the O-1 Visa requirements?
In order to qualify for an O1 visa, the applicant must be able to demonstrate their extraordinary ability. In order to do this, the applicant must provide evidence of national or international recognition in their field of expertise such as having received a major internationally recognized award (such as a Nobel Prize) or at least three of the following:
- Evidence that the applicant has received lesser national or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- Evidence of membership in associations in the applicant’s respective field that require outstanding achievements of their members
- Evidence of published material about the applicant’s work in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that the applicant has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
- Evidence of the applicant’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions. These contributions must be of major significance to their field.
- Evidence of the applicant’s authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that the applicant’s work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
- Evidence that the applicant has performed or will perform services as a lead or starring participant in distinguished productions or event
- Evidence of the applicant’s employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
- Evidence in the form of contracts or other reliable evidence that shows the applicant commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration in relation to others in the field
- Evidence of the applicant’s commercial successes in the performing arts (box office receipts, sales records, etc)
How to apply for an O1 Visa?
Individuals who are interested in applying for an O1 visa will need to complete the process as follows:
- The visa applicant’s employer will petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on their behalf by filing Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)
- After the petition is accepted by the USCIS, the applicant will then need to file Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). This form will need to be completed online
- The applicant will then need to pay the visa fees and schedule a visa interview at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- The applicant will need to gather their necessary documents and attend the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- After the visa interview, the applicant will receive a decision on whether or not their O1 visa has been approved
How long can you stay in the U.S. with an O1 Visa?
This permit is initially granted for up to three years. Subsequently, you can apply for an O-1 Visa renewal for one year at a time. While there is no limit to the number of extensions you can seek, your rationale to stay in the U.S. must stay relevant.
If you are an O-1 holder, you can change your employer while in the U.S. If you choose to do this, you will need to file a new Form I-129 and explain the reasons for your request.
Can I move from an O-1 Visa to an EB-1 Green Card?
The O1 is a non-immigrant dual intent visa, meaning it may allow its holder to seek permanent residence in the U.S.
While in the country, you can apply to change your immigration status. To do this, you must show USCIS that you intend to keep using your extraordinary talent under the EB-1 status by building an excellent portfolio showcasing your work and submitting it together with your petition.
The total processing time for your change of status may take up to one year. If your petition is rejected, you must be willing to leave the U.S. when your authorized non-immigrant stay expires.
It is important to note that O-2 Visa holders can pursue legal permanent residence as well. Since their petition will be evaluated only on their own merit, they can also apply for an EB-2 or an EB-3 visa program. However, in this case, it may be more challenging to demonstrate the extraordinary ability required to change the visa status.
How much does an O1 visa cost?
The fees for an O1 visa are as follows:
- Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) fee: $460
- Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) fee: $190
- Certified translations for documents not in English: costs will vary
- Premium Processing fee (optional): $2,500
What is the O1 Visa processing time?
The O1 Visa processing time tends to be shorter than other permit applications. Since the USCIS does not need to check if you hold a labor certification, it may only take between 2 to 3 months to review your application.
If needed, your sponsor can pay for an O1 Visa premium processing time to receive an answer from the USCIS within only 15 days. This requires an additional fee of $2,500.
Once your petition is approved, you will be summoned for an interview. This stage can take several weeks, making the whole O1 Visa processing time about 4 to 5 months long.
Last modified on September 7th, 2023 at 6:08 am
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Along with your Form I-129, you must submit the following documentary evidence:
- A written advisory opinion from a person with expertise in your area of ability. This must include a watermark to confirm the authenticity of the document
- A copy of any written contract between you and the employer. It is mandatory to include information about the wage offered and all the conditions of employment
- A detailed explanation of the nature of your activities in the U.S.
- Supporting documentation, this can vary whether you are applying for an O-1 or an O-2 Visa
If you are an O-2 Visa applicant, your petition must be filed in conjunction with the one completed by the O-1 alien.
Applying for an O-1 visa can get tricky, especially when it comes to proving the extraordinary ability requirement to the USCIS. However, our team of experienced immigration lawyers is well-versed with the best legal advice to help you submit a thorough application completed to the highest standards.
Your IAS immigration lawyers will:
- Liaise with your employer or sponsor
- File and review your Form I-129
- Check if you meet the O1 Visa requirements
- Support you in case you want to change your visa to another immigrant status
Contact us today to arrange your first visa strategy session. One of our immigration attorneys will be happy to help you gain your permit. Together you will build a comprehensive application portfolio.
Call us on +1 844 290 6312 or use our online contact form. One of our advisors will be in touch with you at the earliest.