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October 9, 2017

O-1 Visa: Are You Extraordinary?

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Excellence is traditionally embraced and celebrated in the US. It is customary to nurture and foster the talent of those who possess a unique aptitude or outstanding skill within a specific field.

O-1 Visa Extraordinary AbilityExcellence is traditionally embraced and celebrated in the US. It is customary to nurture and foster the talent of those who possess a unique aptitude or outstanding skill within a specific field. The spirit of this American cultural philosophy is reflected in the US Immigration Regulations, where a special category of visa was created to attract bright minds to the US: the O-1 Visa.

Who can apply for an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 Visa is commonly referred to as the “artist visa”, however anyone who possess extraordinary skills in the fields of arts and entertainment, science, business, education and athletics can apply for this visa.  This means that any professional who excels in his or her field can apply for an O-1 Visa.

You may be eligible for an O-1A Visa if you work in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics.

Alternatively, you may be eligible for an O-1B Visa if you work in the arts, in motion picture, or the television industry.

These visas have traditionally been used by artists and entertainers seeking to relocate to the US. However, it is also a great option for a multitude of professionals, including designers, chefs, architects, therapists, hair stylists, makeup artists, etc… in summary, the visa is applicable to anyone who possesses a specific skillset.

What are the requirements for an O-1 Visa?

To be eligible for an O-1 visa, you must:

  1. Demonstrate extraordinary ability in your area of work.
immigration excellence O-1 Visa
Famed performer Rihanna is originally from Saint Michael Parish, Barbados.

For the O-1A visa, this condition is fulfilled by showing that you have received an internationally recognized award, or if you meet at least three of eight predetermined criteria, including:

  • You are a member of an association which requires outstanding achievements;
  • You have authored educational articles published in a professional journal or other media in your field of work;
  • You command a high salary or other remuneration for your services etc.

For the O-1B visa, the condition is met by showing that you have received, or have been nominated for a significant national or international award, or you meet at least three of six predetermined criteria, including:

  • You have worked and will work for an organization or establishment that has a distinguished reputation;
  • You have achieved a major commercial success or have been critically acclaimed for your work;
  • You have received significant recognition for your achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in your field of work;
  • You command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

2. The extraordinary ability must be confirmed by an advisory opinion.

You must obtain an advisory opinion from a peer group, such as a labor organization, or an expert in your area of work. The advisory opinion should state whether you possess extraordinary ability in your profession, and if your extraordinary abilities are required for the job that you will undertake in the US.

If there is no peer group or labor organization in your area of work that can attest to your extraordinary ability, the consulate officer will make the decision based on the evidence you provide. Prewitt Law Firm assists in preparing this evidence, and has extensive experience in crafting persuasive application materials that assist the visa application process.

Additionally, you may submit a waiver request for the advisory opinion if you work in the field of the arts, and you seek readmission on an O-1B Visa to perform similar services within two years of a previous advisory opinion.

Can I apply for an O-1 Visa by myself?

You cannot self petition for your O-1 Visa. Only a US employer, a US agent, or a US agent of a foreign employer may file an O-1 petition.

O-1 Visa Candidate
Charlize Theron was born and raised in South Africa, and immigrated to the US to pursue an acting career.

To obtain an O-1 Visa, you must first secure a job in the US. Your employer must then petition the US immigration services on your behalf. The petition must include a copy of your employment contract (or a summary of the terms of your oral agreement with the employer) and the advisory opinion, if applicable.

Your employment contract or the summary of the oral agreement must document the terms of your employment. Your employer must add an itinerary in the petition, disclosing the places where the work will be performed (if you will be working in more than one location).

If you will work for more than one employer within the same time frame, each employer must file a separate petition on your behalf.

We are here to help. If you qualify for an O-1 visa, and would like to explore the possibility of applying through a potential employer or contact in the US, give us a call at +1 646 583 1206 or email us at info@prewittlawfirm to set up an appointment and begin the process of pursuing the next evolution of your career.

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