Do I qualify for an O Visa?

What is an O Visa?

Our clients often ask about O Visa qualifications and eligibility criteria. The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement. There are three types: O-1, O-2, and O-3.

Those for individuals with an extraordinary ability in particular fields:

  • O-1A: sciences, education, business, or athletics
  • O-1B: the arts, or the motion picture or television industries

Those for accompanying parties:

  • O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in an event or performance. (This person must qualify as essential or integral. Specifications depends on the visa type, situation and event.)
  • O-3: the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s

O Visa Requirements

O Visa applicants must be able to evidence their extraordinary ability by sustained acclaim nationally or internationally. They must also be coming to the U.S. temporarily to work in this area of specialty.

O-1A Criteria

The O-1A Visa is strictly for those with an extraordinary ability in sciences, education, business, or athletics. As such, it requires evidence that the individual has received a major, highly-recognized award, or evidence proving at least three of the following:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally-recognized awards or prizes in the person’s field
  • Membership in industry associations with extremely high standards for acceptance
  • Publication in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the individual and his or her work in the field
  • Original contributions of major significance to the industry
  • Scholarly articles authored by the individual in professional journals or other major press outlets in the field
  • A high salary or other significantly impressive compensation (must be evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence)
  • Participation as a prominent speaker in the field, or as a judge of the work of others in the same specialization
  • Employment with a highly established and distinguished organization, in a position determined to be critical or essential

*Comparable evidence may be submitted if the above items do not apply to the individual’s occupation.

O-1B Criteria

Similarly, the O-1B Visa is exclusively for those with extraordinary ability or achievement in the arts, or the motion picture or television industries. Applicants must evidence receipt of or nomination for a significant award in the field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award.

If none of these have been achieved or are not applicable, the person must provide evidence that they achieved at least three of the following:

  • A lead or starring role in productions or events with distinguished reputations
  • National or international recognition for achievements, evidenced by published materials in major newspapers, magazines, trade journals, or other press outlets
  • Performance in a critical role for organizations with highly distinguished reputations
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes (evidenced by title, standing, box office receipts, ratings and other occupational achievements reported in major publications)
  • Significant recognition for successes from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the industry (must include testimonials noting the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the person’s achievements)
  • A high salary or other significantly impressive compensation in relation to others in the field (must be evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence)

*Comparable evidence may be submitted if the above items do not apply to the individual’s occupation in the arts. This exception does NOT apply to the TV or motion picture industries.

How to Apply for an O-1 Visa

The best place to start your O-1 Visa application is by meeting with a qualified immigration attorney with experience in this complex area. Shane & Shane has the special knowledge to help make the complicated process as smooth, simple and quick as possible, so you can keep focusing on your field of excellence! Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.