O-1 Visa Processing
The O-1 visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement is a nonimmigrant work visa in the United States that offers more advantages and flexibilities than other temporary work visas lack. With the complexity of the requirements, working with an immigration attorney who is highly experienced in processing an O-1 visa will improve the likelihood of success.
Types of O-1 Visa
There are two types of O-1 visas. They are O1-A and O-1B.
O-1A: The O-1A visa is for foreign nationals with an extraordinary ability in various fields such as education, business, sciences, or athletics.
O-1B: The O-1B visa is for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in arts or exceptional achievements in the motion picture or television industry.
Requirements for O-1 Visa
The primary requirement for qualifying for the O-1 visa is for an applicant to demonstrate “extraordinary ability” in their fields. According to USCIS, they must have recorded some level of achievements that is recognized nationally or internationally.
For the O-1A, extraordinary ability indicates that you are one of the small percentages who have gotten to the very top of the field.
For the O-1B, extraordinary ability refers to distinction or a high level of achievement in your own chosen field of art. In order words, you must demonstrate that you possess a degree of recognition and skill above what is ordinarily encountered in the industry.
Evidentiary Criteria for O-1 Visa
To demonstrate they possess “extraordinary ability,” applicants are expected to demonstrate relevant evidentiary criteria. You are expected to have at least 3 of the following evidentiary criteria.
- A national or international award
- Published material in a significant or professional media about your work and achievements
- Have membership of a reputable association in your field
- Evidence showing that you have participated in judging other people’s work in the field
- Proof that you have made significant contributions in your area, such as scientific, scholarly, business-related contributions of major significance.
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly work
- Evidence of employment in an essential or critical capacity for a reputable organization
- Evidence that you have commanded a high salary compared to what others earn in your field.
O-1 Visa Supporting Documents
Each category of the O-1 visa has its long list of supporting evidence, including copies of written contracts between beneficiary and petitioner, an itinerary of activities to be carried out, and starting and ending dates of those activities. Your employer will need to submit these along with the O-1 visa petition filed on your behalf.
O-1 Visa Process
Just like other temporary work visas, you will need an employer or agent to file the petition on your behalf. Your ability to use either an employer or an agent will depend on the nature of work you are coming to do in the US with the visa. In any case, however, the following gives a summary of the O-1 visa application process.
- The employer or agent files Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS.
- After Form I-129 is approved, you and the petitioner would be notified. Then you can commence the visa application process at a US embassy near you if you are outside the US.
- If you are in the US and changing from another nonimmigrant status to O-1, you would only wait for the Approval Notice from USCIS. Once the I-129 petition is approved, your status will change to O-1.