What Is An O-1 Visa?
An O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa. It allows you to temporarily live and work in the United States. It is one of several options for employment-based immigration, typically used by foreign nationals for completing important projects or attending special events.
Issued via the U.S. Department of State, an O-1 visa can be granted for up to three years, with yearly renewal until the project is complete. Specifically designed as a visa for individuals with extraordinary ability, there are two categories of applicants:
- O-1A Visa
For individuals with extraordinary ability in business, science, education or athletics.
- O-1B Visa
For individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or significant achievements in the motion picture or television industry.
To protect yourself and your rights throughout the process, get Garvish Immigration Law Group on your side.
Benefits of an O-1 Visa
For athletes, entertainers, teachers, researchers or others with special talents or notable achievements, an O-1 visa offers advantages over other types of employment-based immigration:
- It does not require an educational or professional degree;
- There are no prevailing wage requirements;
- It does not require a Labor Condition Application (LCA) through the U.S. Department of Labor;
- There are no annual caps or maximum numbers of O-1 visas issued;
- There is no maximum period of stay or limit on extensions.
Other O-1 visa benefits are that you can bring your family along under your O-3 status, which is granted to your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 and you can travel freely in and out of the U.S.
Dual intent is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the holder to pursue lawful permanent resident (green card) status while they have a nonimmigrant visa. An O-1 visa is considered dual intent, and your status will not be jeopardized or otherwise negatively affected by filing a petition for a green card while living and working in the United States on a temporary O-1 visa. An immigration attorney can provide guidance on changing your status.
Qualifications for an O-1 Visa
To qualify for an O-1 visa, you must be sponsored by a U.S. employer, proficient in English, submit all required documentation and pay any associated fees. In addition, you will also need to meet at least three of the following criteria:
- Belong to an association requiring outstanding achievement;
- Received national or international awards or recognition for your work;
- Been featured or published in mainstream media or professional and trade publications;
- Made original and significant contributions to the fields of academics, business, or science;
- Served on a judging panel or in other leading roles for highly regarded organizations or institutions;
- Receive significant compensation or other benefits for your services.
O-1 Visa Application Process
The application process for an O-1 visa can be complex. An experienced employment-based immigration lawyer can make the process easier and ensure nothing is overlooked.
The first step is to have your employer file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf. After your Petition is approved, the following steps then need to be completed:
- Receive Form I-797C, Notice of Action of I-129, which confirms Approval of your petition;
- File Form DS-160, a standard non-immigrant visa application (if you are outside the United States);
- Collect other required documents, including a copy of your work contract and confirmation of the activities or events you will be involved in;
- Schedule and attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.