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What is and O-1 Visa and Who Qualifies for one?

An O-1 Visa is a special visa granted to a person with and extraordinary ability, talent or achievement that is recognized and goes above and beyond what is normal for that field and are coming to the United States to continue their work in that field. There a 2 different types of O-1 visas: O-1A and O-1B. There are also visas for people who accompany the talented individual, including people who assist them and family members. These visas are temporary nonimmigrant visas that last up to 3 years, and then you can ask for an extension of up to one year.

O-1A visas are issued to people with extraordinary abilities or achievements in science, education, business, or athletics. To be eligible, the person must have national or international claim for their skills or expertise and they must be among the top few in the field.

O-1B visas are issued to people with extraordinary talent in the arts or achievements in the motion picture or television industry. These are issued to people of distinction whose talents are above the ordinary. They are often renowned, famous, or well-known for their special abilities.

For anyone accompanying the talented individual, there is the O-2 or O-3 visa. The O-2 visa goes to the people who are coming to assist the O-1 visa holder with his or her work. The O-3 visa is issued to the family, the spouse or children under 21 years of age, who are accompanying the holder of an O-1 or O-2 visa. Individuals with an O-3 cannot work in the United States, but they can study, take classes, and go to school.

To apply for an O-1, O-2, or O-3 visa the petitioner must file Form I-129 between 45 days and one year before the start of the employment in the United States. A consultation from a peer group may also be necessary, but there are exceptions for fields where there may not be an appropriate peer group. You must also submit a contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary (the applicant of the O-1 visa) outlining the agreement of the terms in which the talented person will be employed, and an itinerary explaining the nature of the activities. They must also show evidence of their achievements or recognition. This can come in several forms, including receipts, memberships, published materials, and several other records which can be seen on the USCIS website. The process is similar for those filing O-2 visas, but they must be filed in conjunction with the application of the O-1 visa.

In some cases, a U.S. agent may be able to file the O-1 visa for a skilled person if they are the employer, a representative of the employer and beneficiary, or are otherwise authorized to do so. There are separate instructions for agents to petition for O-1 visas for beneficiaries.

If you think you are eligible, or if you have anyone questions about the O-1 visa, experienced Immigration Attorney James A. Welcome has successfully acquired O-1 visas for his clients. Many businesses and companies in the Connecticut and New York area, including Waterbury and the Stamford-Norwalk areas in Connecticut and Manhattan and Westchester County in New York, have benefitted tremendously from this special “O-1 Visa” classification. Click here to read about how Attorney Welcome helped a Muay Thai Kickboxer receive his special visa to teach Muay Thai in Watertown, CT.

The purpose of this article is to provide helpful, basic information for residents in the Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York areas. This information and government filing instructions can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. We are here to answer any questions you have and give legal advice concerning this and other legal immigration concerns.

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