Planning to Get an O-1 Visa? Here’s What You Need to Know

An alien who wishes to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period and is not considering permanently staying in the US can apply for a nonimmigrant visa. There are different types of work visas available in the United States for foreigners who have job offers or are planning to work in the United States, and the O-1 visa is one of those options.

So What is an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 Visa is a type of non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals who plan to go to the United States to work. Those who demonstrate extraordinary ability or achievement in the field of arts, sports, business, education, or sciences are possible petitioners for this type of work visa.

It is a short-term work visa available to qualified foreign nationals with job offers from an employer in the United States. It is also attractive to U.S. businesses seeking to sponsor qualifying applicants with exceptional expertise because it has no maximum annual limit and petitions are processed fairly quickly by USCIS.

The O1 is considered the non-resident equivalent of the EB1-1 ( the “Extraordinary Ability Green Card”, for those applying for US citizenship and permanent residency). This does not mean that the requirements to obtain an O1 are any lower: the petitioner needs to prove they are at the top of their field.

It has a validity of up to three years, and visa renewals are available in 1-year increments with no limit on extensions. However, should you extend your stay and apply for a visa extension, your employer or agent must file the following documents with USCIS:

  •         Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker;
  •         A copy of your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record; and
  •         A statement explaining the reasons for the extension.

(USCIS might require other supporting documents, so preparing your travel documents –  like passport and visa, work permits/labor certification, and other supporting documents will come in handy.)

Petitioning for a nonimmigrant visa can be tedious and tiring because of all the immigration process and paperwork that needs to be accomplished. Let our immigration attorney help you with your application.

There are Different O Visa Classifications

The O visa is separated into different categories, and each category has slightly different criteria and immigration requirements depending on the type of extraordinary ability and works to be performed.

The O visa classifications are commonly referred to as:

  • O-1A: intended for aliens with an extraordinary ability and occupation in the sciences, business, education, or athletics;
  • O-1B: intended for foreign workers with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in a motion picture or television industry;
  • O-2: granted to individuals who will accompany an O-1 beneficiary to assist in a specific event or performance; and
  • O-3: granted to the spouse and/or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders that will be accompanying them.

Immigration laws are very complex and applying for a visa may be very tricky and confusing. Having an immigration attorney assist you with your visa application can make the process easier. Contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers now.

General Qualifications for an O-1 Visa:

For the sciences, education, business, or athletics: the beneficiary must demonstrate that they have a level of expertise showing they are in a small percentage of those who have risen to the top of their field of endeavor.

For the arts: the beneficiary must show that they are prominent in their field; they must have a high level of achievement in the field of the arts as evidenced by their degree of skill, works, and recognition that are substantially above the ordinary.

For work in the motion picture or television industry: the beneficiary must be recognized as outstanding and notable in the motion picture or television because of their exceptional skill and talent that are significantly far above the rest.

Work alongside your immigration attorney to determine what your options are and learn the best way to go about your visa application.

Who Can Apply for an O-1 Visa?

Individuals who are interested in working in the United States cannot petition themselves for an O visa status. O-1 visa applicants may only be sponsored by a U.S. sponsor company for which they will be working in the U.S.

A U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or foreign employer through a U.S. agent sponsoring you should file a petition (Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) on your behalf, along with the required evidence according to the USCIS form instructions.

To comply with USCIS processing times, your employer or agent should file your Form I-129 at least 45 days before the date of employment to avoid delays. (Premium processing is also an option that provides expedited processing.)

How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help

Immigration laws are very complex and sorting it out on your own may be very tricky and confusing. We, at Luis F. Hess, PLLC Law, can help you understand the process for obtaining a visa and guide you through the tedious immigration process.

Contact us today at (281) 984-5294 for a free consultation.