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Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
An O-1 nonimmigrant visa is offered to a person who has demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. This class of visa is also offered to individuals who have shown a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
The O-1 is only offered to the individual with extraordinary ability or achievement. Support staff who play an “integral part” or are “essential” to the activity of the O-1 applicant are eligible for the O-2 class. O-3 visas are reserved for individuals who are immediate family of O-1 and O-2 applicants.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures, or television industry).
O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1.
O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s.
The process for applying for an O-1 visa can be somewhat tedious. A petition must be filed not more than one year before the need for the applicant’s services and at least 45 days before the date of employment.
In most cases, a written opinion must be written from a peer group or a person of distinction in the applicant’s field. An applicant must also submit any contracts between themselves and their employer, an itinerary of the nature of their activities, and evidence of their expertise (including awards, memberships, proof of contributions, critical reviews, etc.
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