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Extraordinary Ability

O-1 Visa for arts and entertainment, athletics, sciences, business and education

The O-1 visa is for persons of extraordinary ability in the arts and entertainment, athletics, sciences, business and education. In actual fact, anyone who excels in his or her field or specialty can qualify for an O-1 visa.

The O-1 visa is the perfect visa for artists, designers and consultants who do not usually have full-time permanent positions but rather undertake a series of short-term temporary assignments. The regulations provide that such individuals may use the services of an agent and do not require a full-time permanent position. Rather, they may have an agent sponsor them.

The O-1 visa is granted for a maximum period of three years. After that, the alien may apply for annual extensions or may apply for a new three year visa.

The criteria for the O visa are divided into separate categories as follows:

A. The Arts
B. Motion Picture Industry
C. Science, Business and Athletics

A. The Arts

  1. The arts include, but not limited to, fine, visual, culinary and performing arts. Essential personnel such as directors, choreographers, set designers, make-up artists, and stage technicians are included in this category.

Those in the arts must show “distinction” in their chosen fields, namely that they are prominent in their field, and have achieved a degree of skill and recognition over and above the general level. The applicant must show evidence of being nominated for, or being the recipient of, a significant national or international award, OR meet three of the following criteria:

  1. Has performed a leading or critical role in productions or events having a distinguished reputation.
  2. Has received critical reviews in newspapers, magazines or trade journals.
  3. Has performed a leading or critical role for organizations with a distinguished reputation.
  4. Has a record of major commercial or critically-acclaimed success.
  5. Has received significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field.
  6. Has commanded or will command a high salary.

B. Motion picture or TV industry
Those in the film and television industry are held to a higher standard than those in the arts although the same criteria are used. They must show a history of “extraordinary achievement” rather then mere “distinction.”

C. Science, Business and Athletics
Applicants in these areas must show that they are one of a small percentage to have reached the top of the field. They can show national or international acclaim through receipt of a major international award or show evidence that they meet three of the following criteria:

  1. Has received a nationally or internationally recognized award.
  2. Holds membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievement.
  3. Published materials about applicant in professional or trade publications.
  4. Has served as a judge of the work of others.
  5. Has produced original scientific or scholarly work of major significance in the field.
  6. Is the author of scholarly work.
  7. Has been employed in a critical role by an entity with a distinguished reputation.
  8. Has received or will receive a high salary.

O-1 visas may be issued for a maximum period of three years. Thereafter, they may be extended indefinitely on an annual basis. As with most nonimmigrant visas, an alien in the U.S. in valid nonimmigrant status, such as B or F, may file for a change of status to O-1 without leaving the country. Alternatively, the alien may choose to return to his or her home country in order to receive an O-1 visa stamp in his or her passport at the U.S. Consulate.

O-2 visas are available for those accompanying the principal O-1 visa holder if their work is an integral part of the principal visa holder’s performance or artistic endeavors and they possess critical skills and experience that are not of a general nature and cannot be performed by other individuals.

Spouses and children of O-1 visa holders are granted O-3 visas.

This office has successfully obtained O-1 visas for individuals in a wide array of fields, including:

  • University Professor
  • Model
  • Physician
  • Architect/Architectural Designer
  • Video Artist/Videographer
  • Photographer
  • Painter
  • Stage and Screen Actor
  • Voice-over Artist
  • Radio & TV Announcer
  • Decorative Artists
  • Sculptor/Installation/Multimedia Artist
  • Musician/Composer/Songwriter
  • DJ/Producer
  • Fashion/Costume Designer
  • Fashion Stylist
  • Hair and Make-Up Artist
  • Manicurist
  • Dancer, singer and choreographer

Contact Us to discuss your case today!