If you are considering entering the United States for work, you may be feeling overwhelmed by all your options for potential non-immigrant visas based around your job. If you are an individual skilled in certain categories including science, the arts, or business, an O-1 visa might be the right choice for you.
If you’re an immigrant seeking entry to the United States and hold certain skills, an O-1 visa could be the path for you. Applicants must hold skills in the desired fields in order to be eligible. Read on to learn more about these visas.
Who Can Apply For An O-1 Visa?
O-1 visas are intended for those with extraordinary abilities in a limited number of fields, including business, science, the arts, education, and athletics.
Those who have attained significant achievements in television or film can also qualify for an O-1. Which of these professional categories you fit into will determine whether you qualify for an O-1A or O-1B visa, but both are O-1s with the same requirements.
What Are The Requirements For An O-1 Visa?
In order to qualify for an O-1 visa, an applicant must be able to demonstrate their extraordinary ability. This can be done by providing proof that you are distinguished in your field; simply offering evidence that you possess an advanced degree, for example, is not sufficient. Those with extraordinary ability have distinction and receive national or international acclaim or are considered renowned or a leading expert in the field.
For television and motion picture applicants, in particular, proof of above-average recognition, significant accomplishments, and high skill are required. Proof of being recognized as outstanding or leading in media productions is helpful, as are research materials published in acclaimed journals, receipt of international prizes or awards, and membership in recognized associations.
O-1 Application Process & Timeline
The application process for an O-1 visa can be challenging depending upon whether you have a contract with an international company, are traveling with an agent and other factors, so it is important to work with a skilled immigration attorney who can assist you with navigating the process. To begin, the petitioner, who is the employer in the United States, not the beneficiary, must file a Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. The petition should be filed no fewer than 45 days before the start of employment, but it cannot be filed more than a year in advance.
In addition to the I-129, the application must also contain the requisite proof of extraordinary ability. This is called a consultation, and the consultation is made up of written opinions from the beneficiary’s peer group or someone who is an expert in the same area of work as the beneficiary. The group providing the opinion can be a labor organization or union, a management organization, or a research expert in the field.
Sometimes, depending on the category of work, no labor union or other agency exists that can provide a consultation. In this case, the beneficiary can rely on evidence of record—the person’s history and a submitted list of achievements that demonstrate their skill.
How Long Can I Stay In The US With An O-1 Visa?
An O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, so there is no option to remain indefinitely in the United States. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review the employer’s need for the beneficiary and grant status in increments of one year, not to exceed three years.
If your project lasts longer than the initial time that you were granted by USCIS, you will need to request that your employer file an extension of stay so that you can continue to work.
What If I Change Employers On An O-1 Visa?
If you would like to pursue new opportunities and switch employers during your O-1 stay, you will need to be careful with your documentation. Your new employer will need to fill out a new I-129 unless your petition was filed on your behalf by your agent, in which case, the petition must be amended and resubmitted.
You are free to stop working for a maximum of 60 days during the shift between employers, as this time is built into the visa to ensure that your status does not expire as you make the transition.
Talk To An Immigration Attorney To Get Started
Navigating the complex waters of an O-1 visa application can be challenging, especially because you need to rely on your employer to fill out your petition accurately and thoroughly. This is why working with a skilled immigration lawyer is critical. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge can assist you in receiving your O-1 visa by guiding your employer on proper applicant practices, instructing you on the most effective evidence to gather and submit, and crafting your petition strategically for the best possible result.
Reach out to an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and create a plan to obtain the O-1 visa necessary to continue your work in the United States by calling 703.273.5500 or by requesting a consultation online.