O-1 Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
O-1 (Extraordinary Ability or Achievement)
O-1 is an employment-based nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign national to come to the U.S. and temporarily perform services in the area of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, or extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production. There are no annual numerical limits for O-1 visas. O-1 allows an initial period of stay up to 3 years, which can be extended.
To qualify, a foreign national must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
O-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics
Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
O-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.
To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
O-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 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 must have 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.
Evidentiary Criteria for O-1A:
Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
1. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
2. 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
3. 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
4. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
5. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
6. A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
7. 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
8. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
9. If the above criteria do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary’s 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:
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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.
4. 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
5. 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
6. A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence
7. 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).
Like H-1B, O-1 is an employment-based nonimmigrant visa, which means you cannot freelance or self-petition. You must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent, and must have a specific contract(s) for performance in pre-arranged events and an itinerary explaining the nature of the events or activities in the field of endeavor. A U.S. agent as the petitioner is not required to demonstrate that it normally serves as an agent outside the context of the O-1 petition, but must establish that the petitioner is authorized to act as an agent for the limited purpose of filing the O-1 petition.
U.S. Agent Definition
A U.S. Agent may be one of the following:
1. The actual employer of the beneficiary;
2. The representative of both the employer and the beneficiary;
3. Or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.
U.S. Agent Performing the Function of an Employer
• Must establish the type of working relationship between the agent and beneficiary and should clearly lay out how the beneficiary will be paid. In totality, if the terms and conditions of employment show a level of control over the beneficiary’s work being relinquished to the agent, then the agent may establish that it is performing the function of an employer.
• Must include a contractual agreement between the agent and the beneficiary which specifies the wage offered and the other terms and conditions of employment. A contract is not required between the beneficiary and the entities that will ultimately use the beneficiary’s services; and
• Must include an itinerary with the dates and locations of work, if the alien is required to work in more than one location.
• Must include evidence regarding the wage offered. Although there is no prevailing wage or particular wage structure required, a detailed description of the wage offered or fee structure and that the wage offered/fee structure was agreed must be submitted.
U.S. Agent for Multiple Employers
• Must establish that it is duly authorized to act as an agent for the other employers.
• Must include a complete itinerary of the event(s) which specifies the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of the establishments, venues, or locations where the services will be performed.
• Must include contracts between the actual employers and the beneficiary.
• Must include an explanation of the terms and conditions of the employment.
U.S. Agent for Foreign Employers
• Must include copies of any written contracts between the foreign employer and the beneficiary.
• Must include an explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities
• The foreign employer who is responsible for complying with all applicable employer sanctions provisions.
A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability is required. For an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the consultation must come from both an appropriate labor union AND a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.
A period of stay in the United States may be initially granted up to 3 years depending on the length of the event(s), and may be extended for a maximum of 1 year, if needed, with the same employer. No limitation on the number of requests for extension as long as the petitioner can demonstrate the need for the beneficiary’s extended services. For change of employers, a period of stay may be initially granted up to 3 years depending on the length of the event(s).
• $ 460 - Base filing fee
• $1,225 – OPTIONAL Premium Processing fee for employers seeking Premium Processing Service, which guarantees 15 calendar day processing.
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