Who is it for: The O-1 Visa is also known as the Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement visa. It is issued to those individuals who have extraordinary skills and abilities in athletics, arts, education, business or the sciences. This type of visa is also issued to others who have a verifiable and extraordinary record of success nationally or internationally in the film or television industry.
Those who will accompany the O-1 visa holder to assist with a specific performance or event may be granted an O-2 visa, as long as it can be proved that the assistance is a critical component of the O-1 holder’s performance or activity. Spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders may be granted access to the United States under an O-3 visa.
Immigrant or Non-immigrant visa: Nonimmigrant visa
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Duration: The initial visa is issued for a period of up to three years. However, if the visa holder is engaged in a certain activity or event that goes beyond that initial time frame, then USCIS will review the visa and may grant extensions for up to one additional year.
Details: To prove that an O-1 visa applicant possesses an extraordinary ability or has significant achievements, the visa application submission should include proof of those abilities/accomplishments with evidence of at least three of the following criteria:
- Recognized awards or prizes for excellence in the applicant’s field (i.e. Nobel Prize, Emmy, Academy Award, etc.)
- Published works in newspapers, magazines, trade or professional journals or other well recognized media related to the beneficiary’s work or accomplishments.
- Noteworthy contributions to business, sciences or the arts that are deemed major and significant.
- A high salary that can be substantiated through contracts or other related materials.
- Participating in an event or activity as a judge of others in the same specialized field.
To apply: There are several steps you must take to apply for a O-1 Visa. The exact steps will vary slightly depending on your country of origin, however, these are the general steps you must follow to apply.
Complete the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129. This can be done up to one year in advance of when the expected travel to the United States will take place. It is strongly recommended to submit the Form I-129 no less than 45 days before the anticipated travel to avoid delays.
When you have completed the Form I-129, print the application confirmation page and be prepared to bring it to your interview. As part of completing the application you will need to upload a photo of yourself as well. Photos must be in color, taken within the last six months, and meet other requirements. To see a complete rundown of those requirements, go here.
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If a contract exists between the organization seeking to utilize the visa holder’s services and the applicant, it should also be included in the applicant’s submission. In addition, an explanation of the nature of the visit and an itinerary the applicant’s activities should also be included.
Applicants must prove they meet all criteria during an interview by a U.S. consular official in the applicant’s country of residence. If you are 13 or younger, or 80 or older, an interview will generally not be required, however, officials reserve the right to interview anyone no matter what their age is. Interviews must be scheduled at the U.S. Embassy or consulate where you live.
For more information: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has detailed information on O-1 visas at their website.