During 2020 and 2021, nonimmigrant visa numbers were down due to COVID-19. Only 7,294 nonimmigrant O1-visas were issued in 2021 and 8,838 in 2020. President Biden lifting pandemic visa restrictions is opening the immigration gates. Now is the perfect time to apply if you possess an extraordinary ability in athletics, business, education, sciences, or the arts. If you wonder what this type of visa is and whether you qualify, you need to contact an O1-visa lawyer. We will share what this special non-resident visa is and what an immigration law attorney can do for you.
What Is an O1-Visa?
This visa is for nonimmigrants with exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics. It is also available to those with extraordinary achievements in the television or motion picture industries. The visa allows you to live in the United States and work in the field of your special ability for three years. There are no limits on the number of times you may file for an extension, allowing you to remain in the country for years legally. You cannot apply on your own. Your U.S. employer or agent must file the petition for you. When you obtain an O1-visa, your spouse and minor children may apply for immigration to the U.S. This allows the entire family to remain together during your employment here.
There are specific steps to the application process. The documents you need supporting your qualifications vary depending on your skill. This includes:
- Resume or CV
- Copies of passport for you and family members
- Evidence of extraordinary ability
- Letters of recommendation and endorsement from professionals and experts in your field
- An advisory opinion from a labor organization, management organization, or peer group
- Employment contract between you and U.S. employer or breakdown of the terms of your employment
- Explanation of specific work you will be performing when in the U.S.
Your O1-Visa lawyer is knowledgeable about the necessary documents for obtaining approval.
What Is Extraordinary Ability?
You must show extraordinary ability by proving your national or international acclaim. When dealing with athletics, education, business, and science, you must be at the very top in your field. Proving skill in the arts means you have distinction. You must have recognition and skill that is substantially higher than the average, making you a well-known person in the arts field. Television or motion picture ability requires you to be significantly higher at a skill and recognition level than others. You must be a notable or leading person in the industry.
O-Visa Nonimmigrant Classification Categories
The O-visa nonimmigrant classification has four categories:
- O-1A—Individual with extraordinary ability in athletics, business, education, or sciences
- O-1B—Individual with extraordinary ability in the arts or outstanding achievement in the television or motion picture industry
- O-2—Individuals who accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist them with a specific event or performance
- O-3—The spouse or minor children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders
The petition process begins with your employer or agent filing Form I-129. The form must include a written advisory opinion from an industry labor union, group, or peer and a copy of the employment contract between you and the employer. You must file an itinerary with the visa request. The itinerary explains the nature of events you will participate in and shows your work’s beginning and end dates. Once the application is on file, the USCIS will decide on your request. The recommendation is to file these documents at least 45 days before the date you request entry to the U.S.
Benefits of an O1-Visa
This special visa allows you to live and work in the United States for an extensive period. The visa permits you to stay in the country for up to three years. There are no limits on the number of times you may file for one-year extensions. Using this visa, you may work for more than one employer. You need to take steps to remain compliant if you change employers. Once you receive approval, your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may apply for a 03-visa. An O3-visa does not allow your spouse or children to obtain employment. It does allow the children to attend school. If you need to receive an answer promptly when applying, you may request premium processing. Your application will process in 15 days or less for an additional fee.
How an Immigration Lawyer Can Help
The government does not allow you to apply on your own. Someone must file Form I-129 on your behalf. Employers file most applications, but not all employers meet the immigration qualifications for filing on your behalf. To qualify as an O1-visa agent, the person or organization must prove they legally exist according to American business law. The United States Immigration Services accept proofs like a tax ID number, incorporation date, annual income, etc. An agent must prove to immigration they can act on behalf of you and your employers. Your immigration attorney meets these requirements. Suppose you plan to work for more than one employer. In that case, each employer must file a petition on your behalf, requiring you to pay for several petitions. An attorney may file one Form I-129 petition on your behalf, representing you and all of your employers.
When seeking approval for the visa, your attorney will prepare the most robust case possible. They will help you obtain forms and letters from experts that explain how you qualify for this visa status. Your O1-Visa lawyer will assist you by writing a detailed statement supporting your petition. Reviewing your file, your attorney will suggest appropriate documents supporting your position. This includes prizes, publications, and memberships showing your extraordinary ability. Immigration Services will examine your O1-visa application very closely. Using an immigration lawyer as your agent avoids the risk of denial because of an error.
Hire an O1-Visa Lawyer
The requirements for an O1-visa are complex and subject to change. Your immigration lawyer stays up-to-date on the latest legal requirements and is familiar with the forms and documents necessary for approval. If you want to live and work in the United States, contact the Law Offices of Edith Nazarian today to book a consultation.