LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Carl Michael Shusterman

O Visas for Persons of Extraordinary Ability

How to get an O visa explained by former INS Attorney Carl Shusterman.

You can schedule a legal consultation (Zoom, telephone or in person) at https://app.acuityscheduling.com/sche...

O visas are for persons who possess 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.

The O visa classification includes the following subcategories:

O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry) O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1 O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s

An employer in the US must submit an O-1 petition (form I-129) with evidence of the person's extraordinary ability. The initial O visa is valid up to 3 years and yearly extensions are available after that.

General Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for O visas, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

To qualify for O visas in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

There are no numerical cap on O visas and no prevailing wage requirement although a high salary is a positive factor in determining whether a person is qualified for O-1 status.

An artist or athlete's support staff may be qualified for O-2 visas, and spouses and children of the O-1 visaholder may qualify for 0-3 visas.

O-1 visaholders may apply for permanent residence under the EB-1A category for persons of extraordinary ability although the conditions are more demanding than for an O visa. Self-petitions are available for EB1A green cards.

Application Process O-1 Visa The petitioner should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, (see Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. The petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien's services. To avoid delays, the Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment.

The petitioner must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.

For more information about green cards for persons of extraordinary ability, please see http://shusterman.com/extraordinaryab...

For more information about the O visa please see http://shusterman.com/o1extraordinary...

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