US Immigration Law
INTENDED PURPOSE OF VISA

The employment of persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics or with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievements in motion pictures or television on a full-time or part-time basis in businesses in the United States.

IN ORDER TO QUALIFY

  1. The applicant must provide evidence of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, education or athletics, which has been recognized at the national or international level. In general, the applicant must present evidence of at least three of the following criteria. Not all items may apply to your particular situation. In addition, you may have items and materials that would support your application that are not listed here. You should consult with the attorney to be certain:

    For O-1 classification for extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics:

    1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
    2. Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members;
    3. Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
    4. Evidence that the alien has judged the work of others, either individually or on a panel;
    5. Evidence of the alien's original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field;
    6. Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
    7. Evidence that the alien's work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
    8. Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations;
    9. Evidence that the alien commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field; and/or
    10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts.

    For O-1 classification for extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievements in motion pictures or television: Evidence that the alien has received or been nominated for a major award or prize (i.e. Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, etc.) and at least three of the following:

    1. Has performed or will perform as a lead or starring principal in productions or events that have a distinguished reputation;
    2. Has achieved national or international recognition for achievements in the field;
    3. Has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success, as evidenced by ratings, box office receipts, etc.
    4. Has received significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts;
    5. Commands or will command a high salary compared to others in the field; and/or
    6. Has performed in a leading or starring role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation.

  2. The applicant must be sponsored by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Athletes, entertainers, and TV or motion picture professionals must have specific contracts for performance in pre-arranged events.

LENGTH OF VISA

An alien in O Visa status is admitted initially for a period of time necessary to comply with the terms of the employment contract, with a maximum admission period of three years. O-1status can be extended in one-year increments and there is no maximum period of stay provided that the employment offer is extended.

OTHER EVIDENCE NEEDED IN ORDER TO QUALIFY

For O-1 (sciences, education, business or athletics) classification:
  1. A written consultation from a peer group or labor management organization (or, if this is not available, a person of the employer's choosing) with expertise in the field attesting to the applicant's extraordinary ability;
  2. A copy of any existing written contracts, or a summary of oral contracts, between the employer and the alien;
  3. A schedule of the events in which the alien will participate, including description and beginning and ending dates; and
  4. Evidence of extraordinary ability in the field of endeavor as explained above.

For O-1 (arts, motion pictures or television) classification:
  1. A written consultation from a peer group or labor management organization (or, if this is not available, a person of the employer's choosing) with expertise in the field attesting to the applicant's extraordinary ability. In the case of extraordinary achievement in motion pictures or television, separate consultations are required from the relevant labor groups;
  2. A copy of any existing written contracts, or a summary of oral contracts, between the employer and the alien; and
  3. Evidence of extraordinary ability in the field of endeavor as explained above.

PROCEDURE

If the applicant is lawfully present in the United States, he or she may be able to apply for a change to O-1 status at one of two regional Service Centers of the USCIS which processes these types of petitions. The location, of course, will depend upon the location of the U.S. employer. This process is handled entirely by mail and no appearance by the applicant is necessary. If the applicant is outside of the U.S., the application is still processed at a Service Center. When it is approved, though, notification is sent to the U.S. Consulate in the country of the applicant's residence. There, the process is relatively straightforward to obtain the visa to enter the U.S. in O-1 status.

ADVANTAGES

The O-1 is a non-immigrant visa. This means that it has a definite duration and the applicant must either leave the U.S. upon conclusion or change to another appropriate visa status. However, as explained above there is no maximum period of stay under this status and it can be extended in one-year increments provided that the alien is sponsored by an employer in the U.S. and he or she continues to be recognized for his or her extraordinary abilities or achievements.

Also, the O-1 status allows the alien to maintain a dual intent (meaning that while you wish to enter the U.S. to work on a temporary basis, you would nevertheless like to remain in the U.S. permanently). While you are in O-1 status, you may decide that you would like to live in the U.S. on a permanent basis. Aliens in O-1 status often qualify for EB-1 (Employment-based first category) immigrant visas which apply to aliens with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics. Consult with the attorney if you wish to immigrate to the U.S. and think you may qualify for this type of visa.