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What is an O-1 Visa?
An O-1 visa is a type of work visa that allows temporary workers with extraordinary ability to legally reside in the United States while they perform their skills. This type of visa is unique because it is reserved exclusively for aliens who are gifted in fields such as sciences , education , business , or athletics . Non-resident applicants must prove their abilities in their field in order to acquire an O-1 visa.
Who Can Get an O-1 Visa?
Only certain individuals who have displayed an extraordinary ability in science, education, business, or athletics are eligible to receive an O-1 temporary worker visa. In order for their application to be accepted, they must verify their eligibility with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services division (USCIS) .
Applicants for the O-1 visa must show significant abilities in their fields versus the average person. They must also have a resume with prestigious accolades that sets them apart from the crowd. This helps to ensure that those that are granted the special visa contribute to the community of the United States in the most profound way possible.
Read more about O-1 visa requirements here .
Applying for an O-1 Visa
Applying for an O-1 visa can be a rigorous process. Gifted individuals must compile supporting information for their application to qualify for approval. Before an application can be submitted, temporary worker visa hopefuls must also have a job offer from a legitimate company. The application must be completed by a U.S. employer or agent within a year of needing the services of the non-resident worker and the USCIS fee for filing must be paid.
A temporary worker can get an O-1 visa by verifying a minimum of three of the following requirements:
- Receipt of national or international acclaims, such as an Olympic medal or other award for excellence
- Acquiring membership to an association whose members are judged by national or internationally recognized judges
- Have their work or talent featured in a high-profile publication or by the mainstream media
- Serve as a judge for others in the field (individually or on a panel)
- Make a significant contribution to their field (i.e., scientific accomplishments, scholarly accolades)
- Write or publish scholarly articles (can be in recognized journals or major media)
- Be or been an employee in a critical role of an organization with an outstanding reputation
- Command a large salary or other outstanding renumeration for services provided
- If requirements don’t apply to applicant’s application, applicant can request to submit comparable evidence that qualifies them for an O-1 visa.
The Consultation Process
Before an application can be approved, visa applicants must first receive a formal recommendation from a group of peers in the same profession as the applicant through a process called consultation. These peers decide whether the contributions of the applicant would make a significant impact upon the industry. They also further judge the eligibility of the applicant based on the information in the formal application.
Some industries may not have a peer group readily available to write recommendations. If this happens, United States Citizenship and Immigration division will attempt to locate one. If no such group exists, the division can move forward to making their decision without a recommendation.
In many cases, the services provided by an alien to an American employer are outlined in an employment contract . If such a contract exists, a copy of the document must be submitted along with the O-1 visa application. Any verbal agreements between an applicant and an employer must also be disclosed at the time of application.
A full description of all job duties and functions for the temporary worker must accompany all O-1 visa applications. This description should also include any dates that the worker’s services will be used as well as a copy of any applicable itineraries during those dates. If an itinerary is submitted, qualifying documentation that proves such activities are necessary must also be included.
Read more about O-1 visa requirements here .
How Long are O-1 Visas Good for?
Temporary visas for extraordinarily talented workers, or O-1 visas, are granted for a period of up to three years from the date of approval. Workers are permitted to enter the country up to ten days before their validity period begins and they can remain for up to ten days after it ends. The United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) is responsible for determining the length of time of a visa before expiration.
Determining the Validity Period of an O-1 Visa
When considering how long an O-1 visa will be good for, the USCIS looks at a few key factors of a temporary worker visa application. Whoever submits the temporary worker visa application is obligated to provide proof that the requested validity period for the proposed event or project is necessary.
A project or event for this purpose might be:
- A speaker at a convention or other event
- An advisor for a major project
- A role in a major motion picture
- A researcher in a prestigious scientific facility
- A competition or game in a professional sport
- A business summits
Here are a few examples of considerations of the USCIS for O-1 visas:
- Length of project or event
- Dates of events related to the project or event
- Stopovers or short vacations encompassing the project or event
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Extending an O-1 Visa
If an extraordinary alien worker is required at their position for longer than three years, an extension of the visa is necessary. O-1 visas can be extended for up to one year at a time and there is no limit on how many times a visa can be extended. As long as a petitioner can provide proof that an extension is warranted, visa validity periods can be extended indefinitely.
Family Status Applications
If an O-1 visa applicant wishes to travel along with their spouse and any children under the age of 21, an additional application for a visa called an O-3 nonimmigrant visa is necessary. This visa allows family members to reside legally in the country. It allows family members to study, but they cannot work.
For more a more in-depth look at the O-1 visa application process, check out this webpage .
O-1 Visas vs. H1-B Visas
O-1 visas and H1-B visas are similar in that they both allow gifted workers to legally reside in the United States temporarily while practicing their craft. However, they do not serve the same communities.
H1-B visas are best fitted for workers who are newer to their craft and may have difficulty fulfilling the rigorous requirements for O-1 visas. O-1 visas, on the other hand, are well-suited for those who are well-established in their roles and can provide a list of accolades for consideration to the United States Citizenship and Immigration division.
Read more about O-1 and H1-B visas here .
Get Help with an H-1B Visa
Are you ready to learn more about a H1-B and O-1 visas and want to get some advice from an expert? Post a project today on ContractsCounsel to get connected with immigration specialists who can help you on your path to getting a visa.
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