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What is an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is intended for people with exceptional talent in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, as well as those who have a track record of extraordinary success in the film or television industries and have received national or international recognition for their accomplishments.

The nonimmigrant classification O is also known as:

O-1A: Persons with exceptional talent in the arts, business, education, or athletics (excluding the film, television, or motion picture industries);
O-1B: People with remarkable artistic talent or who have made extraordinary contributions to the film or television industries;
O-2: Those who will support an O-1 athlete or artist at a particular event or performance; O-3: Those who are the spouse or children of an O-1; and

O-3: Those who are the spouse or children of an O-1 and O-2 visa holders

Obtaining an O-1A visa

A petitioning employer will file the I-129 form, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The beneficiary must demonstrate the following to qualify for the O-1A visa:

  • Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award (i.e., Nobel Prize); OR
  • Provide evidence demonstrate meeting at least 3 of the following 8 factors:
    • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
    • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
    • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance is sought
    • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
    • Participation on a panel, or individually, as judged of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
    • Employment in critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

O-1A Term

The O-1A non-immigrant may be admitted for an initial period up to 3 years. Extension are granted in 1 year increments, unless there is a change of employer which would allow for a 3 year extension. Unlike H-1B which have a maximum limit of 6 years, beneficiaries in O status do not have a maximum status limit.

O-1B and O-2

You must be an exceptional achiever in the film or television industries to be eligible for an O-1B visa. This is demonstrated by a level of expertise and notoriety that is substantially above what is typically encountered, to the point where you are regarded as remarkable, notable, or in the forefront of the film and/or television industries.

In the case of an O-2 visa holder in the film or television industry, you must have expertise and experience that is not of a general nature and that is crucial to the O-1 visa holder because of either an already-existing long-standing working relationship or, with respect to the specific production, because significant production (including pre- and post-production work) will be done both inside and outside the United States and your continued participation is essential.

O-1 Dependents

The O-1A’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in the O-3 non-immigrant classification. Family members in the O-3 non-immigrant classification may not engage in employment in the United States.

If you want to bring an individual with exceptional ability in science, arts, education, business, or athletics to the United States, you must first understand the O-1 visa process. Our experienced immigration attorneys in Houston, TX can assist your company in navigating the O-1 visa requirements and ensuring compliance with US immigration laws. To learn more, schedule a consultation today.

If you are in need of a US work visa or permanent residency, speak with one of our immigration lawyers. Please contact us online, call our Houston business immigration attorney office directly at 713-953-7787, or schedule a consultation.