O-1 Visa Program – for those of extraordinary ability
In addition to O-1 Visas available for those of extraordinary ability, O type visas may also be granted to support staff for any such applicant (O-2 status) as well as the spouse and/or children of such applicant ()-3 status).
In order to qualify, the applicant must be coming to the U.S. to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement.
O Visa Program Requirements:
As with other work related visas, an application under the O program should be sponsored by a U.S. employer. The employer needs to file a petition under Form I-129 that includes the following information (with respect to all fields other than the arts, motion pictures or television):
- A written advisory opinion from a peer group (which may include labor or other professional organization) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the applicant’s area of ability;
- A copy of any written contract between the employer and the applicant or in the case of an oral agreement a summary of applicable terms;
- Evidence that the alien has received a major, internationally-recognized award, or evidence of at least three of the following:
i) Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
ii) Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought where such membership is based on outstanding achievement, as judged by international experts in the field;
iii) Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the applicant and his work in the field for which classification is sought;
iv) Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
v) Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought;
vi) A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
vii) Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought;
viii) Employment history showing service in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
In the event that the criteria listed above do not meaningfully apply with respect to the applicant’s field of endeavor, an application may submit evidence that demonstrates a comparable level of extraordinary achievement.
O-1 EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY (ARTS, MOTION PICTURES AND TELEVISION)
The O-1 category also provides a basis for visas to be issued temporarily to applicants who have extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer should file the I-129 petition with:
- A written advisory opinion, describing the applicant’s ability as follows:
- If the petition is based on extraordinary ability in the arts, the consultation must be from a peer group (including labor organizations) in the relevant field of endeavor; or a person or persons recognized in the field with expertise related to the applicant’s area of ability.
- If the petition is based on extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television industry, separate consultations are required from a labor and a management organization with expertise in the relevant field of endeavor.
- A copy of any written contract between the employer and the applicant or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the applicant will be employed;
- Evidence the applicant has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least three of the following:
• Performed or will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements;
• Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
• A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
• Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the applicant is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the applicant’s achievements;
• A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the applicant’s particular situation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.
The O-2 visa category applies to applicants accompanying an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance. This person would be acting as an essential and integral part of the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 artist or athlete because he or she performs support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1 applicant.
O-2 Petition Requirements
An O-2 petition must be filed by a U.S. employer in conjunction with the filing of the O-1 petition and must be filed with:
- A written advisory opinion.
- If the O-2 petition is for an applicant accompanying an O-1 applicant of extraordinary ability in the arts, the opinion must be from a labor organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
- If the O-2 petition is for an applicant accompanying an O-1 artist of extraordinary achievement in the field of motion picture or television, the opinion must be from a labor organization and a management organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
- Evidence of the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 applicant working in support of the O-1 artist, and that the applicant has substantial experience utilizing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1 artist. In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence shall establish that significant production has taken place outside the U.S., and will take place inside the U.S. and that the continuing participation of the applicant is essential to the successful completion of the production.
Spouses and minor children (dependents) of O-1’s are admitted under O-3 status with the same restrictions as the principal. No work is permitted in the U.S. under this visa classification.