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Everything You Need to Know About O-1 Visas

O Visas

If you are an individual with extraordinary abilities and are considering working in the United States, the O-1 visa might be the right option for you. The O-1 visa is specifically designed for people who have demonstrated exceptional talent in their field. This blog will cover everything you need to know about O-1 visas, including their requirements, the application process, and other essential details.

What is an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in their field. It is divided into two categories:

  • O-1A Visa: For individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.

  • O-1B Visa: For individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

Requirements for O-1 Visas

O-1A Visa Requirements

To qualify for an O-1A visa, applicants must demonstrate extraordinary ability by providing evidence such as:

  • Receipt of major internationally recognized awards.

  • Documentation of membership in associations that require outstanding achievements.

  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the applicant’s work.

  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the field.

  • Original contributions of major significance to the field.

  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field.

  • High salary or other remuneration for services.

  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations with a distinguished reputation.

O-1B Visa Requirements

For the O-1B visa, which is tailored for artists and entertainers, applicants must demonstrate extraordinary ability through evidence such as:

  • Lead or starring roles in productions or events with distinguished reputations.

  • National or international recognition for achievements.

  • Lead or starring roles for organizations with distinguished reputations.

  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes.

  • Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts.

  • High salary or substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field.

How to Apply for an O-1 Visa

The application process for an O-1 visa involves several steps:

Step 1: Petition Filing

An employer, agent, or sponsor must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition must include:

  • Advisory Opinion: A written advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.

  • Contract: A copy of any contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary.

  • Explanation: An explanation of the event or activities, including an itinerary if applicable.

  • Evidence: Evidence demonstrating the beneficiary’s extraordinary ability or achievement.

Step 2: USCIS Processing

Once the petition is submitted, USCIS will review it and, if satisfied, will approve the petition. Processing times can vary, and premium processing is available for an additional fee to expedite the review.

Step 3: Visa Application

Upon approval, the beneficiary can apply for the O-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. This step involves submitting Form DS-160, paying the visa application fee, and attending a visa interview.

Step 4: Arrival in the U.S.

If the visa is granted, the beneficiary can travel to the U.S. and begin their work according to the terms of the visa.


Additional Considerations


Duration of Stay 

O-1 visas are typically granted for the duration of the event, activity, or performance, up to a maximum of three years. Extensions can be granted in one-year increments if the applicant continues to meet the eligibility criteria.


Family Members

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of O-1 visa holders are eligible for O-3 visas, allowing them to live in the U.S. but not to work.


Change of Employer

If an O-1 visa holder wishes to change employers, a new petition must be filed by the new employer. The visa holder cannot commence work with the new employer until the petition is approved.


The O-1 visa is an excellent option for individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements looking to work in the U.S. Understanding the requirements and the application process is essential for a successful application. If you believe you qualify for an O-1 visa, consider consulting with an immigration attorney to help you go through the process and maximize your


You can contact our office for assistance at 678-250-5449 or fill in the ‘Contact Us’ form below.

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