O-1 Visa for Artists, Entertainers or others of Extraordinary Ability:

The O-1 visa is a temporary work visa available to foreign nationals who are artists, entertainers or others of extraordinary ability in the sciences education, business or athletics.  The extraordinary ability must have been demonstrated by “sustained national or international acclaim.”  The O−1 visa is also available to those in motion pictures and television who can demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement.”  The requirement has been interpreted broadly to include most creative fields, including photographers, chefs, carpenters and lecturers.  The person must be coming to the United States to work in his or her field of ability, but the position need not require the services of a person of extraordinary ability. 

Qualifications for an O-1 Visa:

Extraordinary ability means the achievement of a high level of expertise such that the applicant is one of a small percentage at the top of his or her field.  Artists and entertainers must show a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that normally encountered; a slightly lower standard. O-1 visa holders must be entering the United States to perform temporary services for an American employer or an agent of an international employer.  They must be entering the United States to participate in a specific event or events. The petition may not be filed more than six months before the services are needed.

Evidence for O-1 Visa Petitions:

The O-1 visa petition requires specific evidence of one’s qualifications and international recognition of extraordinary ability.  An applicant may prove his or her ability in the field by showing receipt of an internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize.  He or she can also document at least three of the following:

·         Internationally or nationally recognized prizes or awards;

·         Published material about his or her work;

·         Membership in an association that requires members to have outstanding achievements;

·         Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;

·         Authorship of scholarly articles published in any type of major media or professional journals;

·         High salary or any other type of compensation in relation to others in the field;

·         Participation on a panel, or as a judge of other people’s works;

·         Evidence of past employment for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien's occupation, comparable evidence may be submitted in order to establish eligibility.
An applicant will also need to provide a contract with his or her employer that describes the terms and conditions of services to be performed, or a summary of the terms of an oral agreement.  For specific events, a specific itinerary showing the schedule and ending date of events must be provided.
Length of Stay and Renewals of O-1 visa:

An O-1 visa may be granted for up to three years.  O-1 visa status may be renewed in one year increments, or until the project is finished.

Assistants of O Visa Holders (the O-2 visa):

Foreign nationals who are accompanying an O-1 visa holder and assisting in the performance may be able to obtain an O-2 visa.  To qualify for an O-2 visa, the assistant must meet the following requirements:

·         Be an integral part of the actual performance;

·         Have critical skills and experience that cannot be performed by others;

·         In television and motion pictures, have a long-standing working relationship with the O-1 alien.  

The petition must include evidence to establish the applicant’s essential role, and that he or she has skills and experience not possessed by an immediately available US worker. 

Dependents of O Visa Holders (the O-3 visa):

Spouses and children of an O-1 visa holder are eligible for admission to the United States in O-3 status.  Dependents need to show proof of the family relationship. Dependents may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college.


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