Some of the most common routes to obtain work authorization in the United States are the H1B, L1, and TN visa categories. Although these visa categories are often a viable option, sometimes they are not. H1B visas have an annual Cap, TNs are limited the professions listed under NAFTA, and L1s requires the proper business relationship.
An alternative visa option to consider is the O-1 visa. Although the criteria that must be met to obtain O-1 visa status is higher than other visa categories it comes with some major advantages. The O-1 visa does not have an annual Cap, is not limited to certain professions, does not require a specific business relationship, and is renewable indefinitely.
What is the O1 Visa?
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for those who can demonstrate through substantial supporting evidence that they possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a provable record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
O1 Visa Categories
The O-1 Visa breaks down into the following categories:
- O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. Must be supported with proof of ability and achievements. Many often overlook the potential for an O-1A visa for those in business. We have proven success assisting those with specific business expertise/ability to obtain O-1A status as well as those with demonstrated achievements in science, education and athletics. Athletics is also broader than many first perceive. This includes all athletic disciplines and is not limited to mainstream athletics.
- O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
Evidentiary Criteria for O-1A
Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize. A common misconception with the O-1 visa is that this is the only criteria for the O-1 visa. This is not the case. Most O-1 visas are issued to those that can demonstrate at least three (3) of the following:
- 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 in the field.
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification 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 a judge 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 a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
- If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.
Evidentiary Criteria for O-1B
Evidence that the beneficiary has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, OR evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
- Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements
- A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence
- If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility (this exception does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).
If you have questions about the O-1 Visa or require assistance with the O-1 Visa application process our experienced team can help. We have demonstrated success in filing O-1 visas for those from all backgrounds.