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O-1 Visa for Extraordinary Ability Foreigners to Work in US

The O-1 visa is an increasing used visa to get foreigners to work in the US. Essentially it is a non-immigrant visa that allows people who possesses extraordinary ability in business educations, arts, science, entertainment (TV or Movie) or athletics,who have demonstrated a record of extraordinary achievement which is nationally and/or internationally recognized and verifiable. It is also a dual-intent visa meaning the sponsored employee can via their company be sponsored for Permanent Residency in the US.

The O-1A visa is for people in the humanities sector like business or science and O-1B visa is for those in the entertainment industry. Sometimes it is easy to prove the eligibility for the visa type like being a Nobel Prize winner or Olympic medal which shows you are clearly top 1% of your chosen field, however in most cases it is more subjective. In that vein a O-1 applicant’s package is more comprehensive than say an H-1B visa, and needs to include at least 3 of the following forms of proof.

  • Proof of applicant’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Proof of applicant’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
  • Evidence that the individual has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Documented proof of the individual’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  • Documented proof of the individual’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
  • Published material in professional and/or major trade publications or major media about the individual, relating to the individual’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;
  • Proof of the applicant’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought;
  • Evidence that the individual has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

There is also an O-2 visa for assistants and support staff of the primary applicant and an O-3 visa for dependent spouses or children of the primary O-1 visa applicant. The O-2 applicant has to be considered an integral part of the primary applicant’s activity or event. Also it has to be proved that the tasks required of the O-2 applicant couldn’t readily be performed by a US worker.

The initial period for the O-1 visa holder is 3 years with renewability for 1 years increments indefinitely following. It is thought b/c of the nature of these individuals many would be sponsored for a Green Card under EB-1 and EB-2 easily by their employers with little waiting period. However the reality is that may not happen in practice so simply due to the cost and complex process and application times. The current proposed immigration laws are hoping to address is by making the path to Permanent Residency for these foreigners quicker and smoother.

In recent years to overcome things like the H-1B demand and quotas and risks like the H-1B visa lottery, the O-1 visa has been increasingly used to get high skilled foreign workers into the country who are unable to fit into the arbitrary quotas. It was originally introduced in 1990 and is used evermore for white-collar type work from originally being a major haven of entertainers, athletes and other people of major fame.

Cj

 

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US Visa Types List

Temporary Work Visas and Employment-Based Green Cards

An individual may obtain a temporary visa to work or study in the United States, or he or she may obtain lawful permanent residency (green card) through one of five employment-based preference categories. Immigration attorneys can assist you with either your temporary work visa or your employment-based green card application.

Temporary Visas for Working

The H Visa Temporary Worker

There are several types of H visas for temporary workers. Each type of visa allows the individual to perform a specific job:

  • H1B visa is for professionals who are coming to work in the U.S. in a specialty occupation (Professional visa and Fashion Models);
  • H1C is for nurses who will work in particular positions;
  • H2A is for agricultural workers;
  • H2B visa is for non-agricultural workers (Unskilled Foreign Workers);
  • H3 is for trainees; and
  • H4 visa is the accompanying visa granted to the spouse and children under 21 years of age of the worker.
  • TN Status: allows certain qualifying Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work for an employer in the U.S. under NAFTA.

Learn more about the H Visa and other Temporary Worker visas through the U.S. State Department’s website

The E Visa

Only citizens and nationals of certain countries are eligible for this type of visa. A requirement for this visa is a treaty between the United States and the foreign country for trade or commerce. There are two types of E visas for working:

  • E1 visa is for an individual who is doing substantial trade with the United States; and
  • E2 visa is for an investor who is directing an investment
  • E3 visa for Australia citizens only to work in the US (E3D visa is the partner visa)

Learn more about Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors Visas through the U.S. State Department’s website

The L Visa Temporary Worker

The L visa is for temporary worker who is coming to work at a subsidiary of a foreign company. There are several types of L visas:

  • L1A visa is for a manager or an executive;
  • L1B visa is for someone with specialized knowledge;
  • L2 visa is the accompanying visa that spouses and children under 21 years of age receive with the worker.

Temporary Visas for Studying – Student Visas

Look for important News Releases from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about SEVIS

The F-1 Visa

This F1 visa allows the student to study full-time at an academic institution such as a university, private school, or language institute.

Learn more about Academic Student Visas through the U.S. State Department’s website.

The J Visa for Exchange Trainees and Workers

The J visa is for temporary workers on J1 work and travel or J1 trainees who are coming to work or train with an organization that has been approved for an exchange program under the J visa regulations.

Learn more about Exchange Visitor Visa (J Visa) through the U.S. State Department’s website.

Read about the Waiver of the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement for J Visa through the U.S. State Department’s website.

The M Visa

This type of visa allows an individual to attend an approved course of study leading to a specific educational or vocational objective and engage in full-course of study.

Learn more about the Nonacademic Student Visa (M Visa) through the U.S. State Department’s website.

Temporary Visas for Particular Occupations – O, P, Q, and R Visas

The O Visa

The O-1: Extraordinary Ability Artists/Entertainers, Business People, Scientists, Educators, and Athletes

The O-1 visa is available to foreign nationals of extraordinary or high achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics as demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, or with regard to motion picture and television productions, a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement, and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.

The O-2: Support Staff of Artists and Athletes

The O-2 visa is for an alien entering:

(1) for a specific event or events;
(2) who is an integral part of such actual performance;
(3a) has critical skills and experience with principal alien, which are not of a general nature or which cannot be performed by other individual; or
(3b) in the case of a motion picture or television production, has skills and experience with the O-1 alien that are not of a general nature and which are critical and the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production; and
(4) has a foreign residence that the alien has no intention of abandoning.

The P Visa for Athletes and Artists

This visa applies to an internationally recognized athlete performing at a major athletic event as an individual athlete or as part of a group or team and for an artist or member of internationally recognized entertainment group. There are several types of P visas:

  • P-1 is for an athlete and athletic teams and entertainment groups;
  • P-2 is for artists and entertainer reciprocal exchange;
  • P-3 is for artists and entertainers integral to performance.

The Q-1 Visa

This visa applies to a foreign national entering the U.S. for the purpose of obtaining practical training, employment, and the sharing of history, culture, philosophy, and traditions of the alien’s home country.

The R-1 Visa

R-1 visa is for a foreign national with a religious profession, occupation, or vocation, for example, minister, professional holding degree or foreign equivalent degree, cantor, monk, evangelist, or nun.

Employment Based and Investor Immigrant Preferences

Employment-based immigration for lawful permanent residence falls under five preference cateogories:

Different criteria apply to each of these categories and substantial document preparation is required to successfully obtain residency based upon one of the employment-based immigraton categories.

Check the current Visa Bulletin priority dates for each of the employment-based categories, since not all categories have a current priority date.

Guest Author

Ruchi Thaker

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