Extraordinary By Any Account: O-1 Visa
Globalization brings additional opportunities for professionals. Companies around the world are trying to reach a larger audience of their potential customers. To that end, they are constantly improving and enhancing their products or services offered, which requires them to maintain a reliable and diverse team of professionals. Thanks to globalization, people have become more mobile and interested in new experiences. Professionals have employment opportunities not only among local employers, but also to employers in the global marketplace that seek the best and brightest.
What is O-1 Visa?The United States Immigration laws provide a number of employment-based immigration options. The focus of this article is the O-1 Temporary Worker Visa. The O-1 allows individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics to come to the United States in that capacity for a period of up to 3 years based upon a petition approval for that duration. There are no limit to the number of times such individuals are able to extend their stay in the United States.
Why would I need O-1 Visa?The O-1 allows its holder to live and work in the United States. The O-1 is a "dual intent" visa. This means that someone who applies for this visa could have temporary or permanent intentions to reside in the United States. Therefore, pursuit of a green card in the past or future would not jeopardize eligibility for the O-1. The O-1 is a good starting point for future application for an EB-1 Immigrant Visa leading to a green card without having to file a labor certification application.
Who can petition for O-1 Visa?The O-1 requires an offer of employment from a U.S. entity or agent associated with the beneficiary's field of extraordinary ability. Their employers would then petition on their behalf, which can be done up to six months before the intended start date. While it is prohibited for O-1A beneficiary to petition for himself or herself, a business entity owned by the beneficiary may be eligible to file the petition on behalf of the O-1A individual.
What are O-1 Visa's advantages?The O-1 has a number of advantages not available to other employment-based temporary visas. First of all, O-1 is not "capped" as H-1B is. It means that no annual limit exists on how many visas can be issued under this category and the employer can petition for O-1 at any time during the year since the visas remain available year round. As for some practical examples, O-1s have been obtained by scientists and researchers from different fields, outstanding medical specialists, sport coaches, IT engineers, chefs, and even bonsai technicians, as well as many other professionals.
So what is extraordinary ability?Generally, it is demonstrated by showing that the beneficiary has risen to the top of their field. Easy cases are Nobel Prize Winners and Olympic champions. But the visa is not just reserved for them.
Approximately 83,000 people come to the United States on O-1 every year and the overwhelming majority of these are people have confirmed their "extraordinary abilities" by proving that they qualified, at least, to three of the following criteria:
(1) received a nationally recognized prize or award for excellence;
(2) attained membership in associations that require outstanding achievements of their members in a particular field of expertise, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
(3) been the subject of published material in professional or major trade publications or major media (regarding you and your work);
(4) participated, on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in your field;
(5) made an original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contribution of major significance to the field;
(6) authored scholarly articles in professional journals or major media;
(7) been previously employed in a critical or essential capacity for an organization with a distinguished reputation, or
(8) commands or have commanded a high salary or other outstanding remuneration for your services.
If the above criteria do not readily apply to the applicant's occupation, the company filing the immigration petition may submit comparable evidence to show how the beneficiary I "extraordinary" in their field.
(These criteria apply to professionals in the fields of entrepreneurship, education, science and sports. With regard to "extraordinary abilities" in the fields of art, cinema and television, the requirements are slightly different).