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US Extraordinary Ability Visa - O-1

The O-1 visa can be particularly helpful to highly talented or acclaimed persons who may not want to use or do not qualify for other types of visas. The visa can be used for any field of endeavor in the United States of America.

How long can the O-1 visa holder remain in the US?

The regulations impose no limit of the length of admission. However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service will normally set the initial validity period to three years. Extensions may be obtained for one year at a time. The O-1 visa can potentially lead to a green card.

How do I obtain an O-1 Visa

Each O-1 case must be well documented with supporting evidence proving that all legal requirements are met.

The evidence to be submitted will depend on the circumstances and must demonstrate that the applicant is truly extraordinary. However, “Extraordinary” entails a high standard as applied to business persons, scientists, educators and athletes and a lower one as applied to artists and entertainers. Artists and entertainers in the television and motion picture industries fall somewhere in between.

The first step is for the US employer or agent to file a petition with the appropriate Service Center. The petition must include a written advisory opinion from the appropriate union if one exists.

Proving your ability in science, education, business or athletics:

The applicant can submit evidence of receipt of a major international award such as the Nobel Prize, Olympic Gold Medal or at least 3 of the following:

Proving extraordinary ability in the arts:

The applicant can submit evidence of nomination for or receipt of a significant international award or prize such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award OR at least 3 of the following:

Proving extraordinary achievement in the Motion or TV industry:

The same types of evidence as for the arts category, but the Citizenship and Immigration Service will weigh the evidence differently.

The final step is normally to obtain the O-1 visa from the applicable US Consulate or Embassy. Dependents of the O-1 holder (spouses and children) may normally obtain O-3 visas.

A separate O-2 classification exists for persons who are accompanying and assisting an O-1 artist or athlete in the artistic or athletic performance for a specific event or events. If you need further information about this category, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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