What is an O Visa?

An O visa is a non-immigrant work visa for individuals who display an extraordinary level of quality, skill, and/or notoriety in the fields of sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, and film and television. The visa is also applicable to certain assistants and immediate family members.

There are several different types of O visas, each of which has specific requirements determining which fields are applicable and how to prove extraordinary ability in those fields. O-1A visas are for individuals who show excellence in science, art, education, business, and athletics. O-1B visas are issued to those who have been recognized nationally or internationally for their work in film or television. O-2 visas are for assistants of O-1 visa holders, and they must possess skills and knowledge that the O-1 can’t find in the U.S. and would be incapable of performing their task or duties without. O-3 visas are for spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

The visas are usually issued for a period of three years, with annual renewal following the original period. Reach out to an immigration attorney for more information and help to apply for an O visa as the process can be quite confusing.

What is the O Visa Application Process?

There are several different documents that have to be complied together to apply for an O visa. To begin the process, the applicant must file the Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker document. It is sent to the office listed on the document at least 45 days before the start date of the applicant’s employment. It is extremely important to not send it any later to avoid delays that may compromise the applicant’s workability. Along with the I-129 form, several other legal documents are also required.

A written contract between the applicant and the employer should be included. It needs to contain information regarding the petitioner as well as evidence that proves the applicant’s extraordinary ability (examples of appropriate evidence are listed below). It should detail the proposed work the applicant will be doing in the U.S. in the form of an itinerary, supporting contracts that collate with the itinerary, and evidence from past work that confirms the applicant’s extraordinary ability. If no such document exists, a summary of the oral agreement can be used instead.

For O-1A applicants, a letter of recommendation from within their field is needed. This can be from peer groups or labor organizations. O-2B applicant’s require a written consultation from a labor union and management organization that specializes in the appropriate field.

How to Prove Extraordinary Skill For an O-1A Visa?

The applicant must be backed by supporting awards that are internationally recognized, such as the Nobel Prize. Three of the following should apply to the applicant:

  • Have received national or international awards or prize of excellence in the appropriate field.
  • Membership in one of the associations that relate to the field. These associations must require outstanding achievement which is judged by national or international experts.
  • Publication in academic journals, trade publications, newspapers, magazines, or any related media to the field of study.
  • Proof of major contributions than had an impact on the fields of science, education or business.
  • Command a high salary or remuneration for their services.
  • Membership or participation on a panel that judges others in the same field. Individual judgment may apply if it’s highly regarded.
  • High-level employment at one of the leading organizations in the applicant’s field.
  • Other relevant evidence of exceptional expertise that does not fit any of the above criteria.

How to Prove Extraordinary Skill For an O-1B Visa?

Three of the following should apply to the applicant:

  • Proof the applicant was a recipient or nominee of a highly regarded award of achievement.
  • Proof they are performing or will perform in a highly regarded, critically acclaimed production, or provided/will provide services for that production.
  • Acclaim in line with this performance from an established and highly regarded media outlet. This can include stellar reviews about their ability in a newspaper, magazine, or journal.
  • A reputation for this performance as highlighted by a strong marketing campaign, critical review/anticipation, or endorsements.
  • Proof of success with box office numbers, rating, viewership, title, or critical rating from an established organization or media outlet.
  • Widespread acclaim for either fame, financial success, or government support. This requires testimonials from high ranking officials claiming the expertise of the applicant.
  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.
  • Comparable evidence may be substituted for the above items if three cannot be provided. This will vary with each application.

What Are the Requirements For an O-2 Visa?

O-2 visas are designed for individuals who are necessary to the O-1 applicant. To be eligible for this visa, the applicant has to be vital to the O-1 visa applicant to the point where O-1 applicant cannot perform their duties or tasks without the knowledge and skill of their assistant. Typically for the O-2 visa, applicants are assistants to artists or athletes. They must have knowledge and skill that the O-1 applicant is unable to find in the United States.

The O-2 applicant submits the form I-129 along with the O-1 applicant’s. For O-2 applicants filing with an O-1A applicant, a consultation is required from the appropriate labor organization for arts or athletics. For O-2 applicants filing with an O-1b applicant, a consultation with a labor and management organization in the motion or television industry is needed.

How to Prove Evidence of Achievement For O-2 Visa?

A list of knowledge and skill that are necessary to aid the O-1 applicant during their employment in the U.s. must be submitted. They have to also prove years of experience in the appropriate field. For film or television industries, a track record of the services listed must be provided. Consult an immigration attorney for more information and help to apply for an O visa.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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