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NEW YORK O-1 VISA SERVICES

Need help with any kind of O-1 Visa issues? Contact us now!

O-1 Visa General Information

An O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that may be obtained by individuals who possess extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement, indicated by a level of expertise or accomplishment that is higher than their peers in the same industry or profession. The criteria for qualifying as an individual who possesses “extraordinary ability” or “extraordinary achievement” varies among professions, but can generally be demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim or by a record of skills and experience which is not of a general nature and is critical. O-1 visa requirements have steadily grown more onerous throughout the years. Obtaining this visa without a lawyer can be difficult even for highly qualified individuals. There are two types of O-1 visas: O-1A and O-1B.

 

 

O-1 visas are granted for a three-year period or for the duration of the project that the beneficiary is working on. An O-1 visa can be renewed every year thereafter in one-year increments.

 

 

The immigration attorneys at C.T. Lee & Associates in New York, assist sponsoring companies and individuals with O-1 visa applications. Our clients often face tight timelines with O-1 and other visa applications. Our experience allows us to cut through the clutter and avoid mistakes that can delay progress and complete the process expediently.​

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU WITH O-1 VISA REPRESENTATION

Evidence/Documentation to Prove O-1A Visa Eligibility

The evidence and documentation required for O-1A visas is different depending on whether the O-1A visa is being requested in the field of science, education, business or athletics, or if it is being requested in the field of arts.

 

 

To be eligible for an O-1A visa in the field of science, education, business and athletics, individuals must demonstrate their “extraordinary ability” by either being the recipient of a major, internationally recognized award (e.g. a Nobel Prize), or by demonstrating fulfillment of at least three of the following criteria:

 

–  Documentation of receipt of lesser nationally (not necessarily U.S.) or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field or industry. An example is a regional award and not a school award.

 

–  Documentation of membership in associations in the field of endeavor that require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their fields. An example is being elected as a board member on a company specializing in the field and not being part of a simple social organization in the field.

 

– Published material in professional or major trade publications or in the major media about the alien and relating to the alien’s work in the field of endeavor. An example is an expose in an architectural magazine or blog and not a simple interview on a website.

 

–  Evidence of participation as a judge (individually or as a part of a panel) of the work of others in the person’s field. An example is a judge of a doctorate thesis and not a judge of a school talent show.

 

–  Evidence of scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field of endeavor. An example is holding a patent and not just a business plan.

 

–  Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals or other major media.

 

–  Evidence of performance in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations. This can be for a project or company you worked for in the past.

 

–  Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others.

 

–  If the criteria mentioned in the previous paragraphs do not apply to the industry of the individual applying for the visa, the individual is able to prove his or her extraordinary ability with comparable evidence.

Evidence/Documentation to Prove O-1B Visa Eligibility

To be eligible for an O-1B visa in the field of arts, individuals must demonstrate their “extraordinary ability” by either being the recipient or a nominee of a significant international or national award such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy or a Director’s Guild Award, or by demonstrating fulfillment of at least three of the following criteria:

 

– Evidence that the individual has performed or will be performing services as a lead or starring participant in productions that have a distinguished reputation.

 

– Evidence that the individual has achieved national or international recognition for her or his work by critical reviews or other published material about the individual in major newspapers or publications.

 

– Evidence that the individual has performed or will be performing services as a lead or starring participant for organizations and establishments with distinguished reputation.

 

– Evidence that the individual has a record of major successes, evidenced by such indicators as motion pictures and television rating, standing in the field or box office receipts.

 

– Evidence that the individual has received significant recognition for his or her achievements from organizations, government agencies, critics or other recognized experts in the field.

 

– Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others.

 

 

If the criteria mentioned in the previous paragraphs do not apply to the industry of the individual applying for the visa, the individual is able to prove his or her extraordinary ability with comparable evidence.

 

 

O-1B visas are reserved for individuals who work in the fields of film, motion picture or television. To be eligible, individuals must demonstrate their “extraordinary achievement” by being the recipient of a major, internationally recognized award for excellence (e.g. an Oscar), or by demonstrating fulfillment of at least three of the following criteria:

 

– The individual has been or will be performing a lead or starring role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation (as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, press releases, publications, contracts or endorsements)

 

– There are critical reviews or other published material in professional or major trade publications or in the major media by or about the individual, which show that the individual has achieved national or international recognition or achievements

 

– Evidence of performance in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations

 

– Evidence of a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or records, television or motion picture ratings, or standing in the field

 

– Evidence of significant recognition for achievements from organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field

 

– Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others

Consultation/Advisory Opinion Requirements

One of the most arduous aspects of obtaining an O-1 Visa is the requirement that the applicant obtain a written opinion by a recognized United States labor organization or peer group within the field of expertise. These opinions state whether the labor organization or the peer group considers that the applicant is an individual with extraordinary ability or achievement. The United States Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a list of designated organizations in different industries that are qualified to issue these written opinions. For example, one of the designated organizations for actors is the Screen Actors Guild, which covers actors who work in film, digital motion pictures, television, commercials, video games and other new media platforms. Usually if a designated organization exists, the applicant should obtain a written opinion from that organization unless the applicant can get a written opinion from an even more qualified organization. Thankfully, a negative opinion does not necessarily mean that your O-1 application will be denied but it is a significant hurdle to overcome. Our firm has overcome negative advisory opinions before. We advise any O-1 applicant to hire our firm at the beginning of the O-1 visa process because receiving a positive advisory opinion often comes down to how you present your materials to the labor organization or peer group.

 

A written advisory opinion is not necessary if a labor organization or peer group does not exist in the field of expertise of the applicant. However, the O-1 applicant must make an exhaustive effort to find out whether any organizations in his or her field exist.

 

For those individuals applying for the O-1B visa, the regulation requires two advisory opinions. One of them must come from a labor organization and the second from a peer group.

Additional Details for O-1 Visas

O-1 Visa Sponsor

The O-1 visa requires that applicants have a sponsor who will file the O-1 visa petition for the applicant. This sponsor may be 1) the sole employer of the applicant for the duration of the visa; or 2) may be just an agent of the applicant, who works to secure different projects on the applicant’s behalf. A sponsor can be either a company or a person. The main reason why an applicant finds an agent as opposed to an employer is if the applicant works on a project-by-project basis.

 

If the sponsor of the visa petition is the employer of the applicant, an employment contract must exist and the employment contract (which needs to state the salary that the applicant will receive) needs to be included in the petition. In this scenario, the applicant can only work for the employer, meaning that the employer (sponsor) is the only authorized entity to pay the salary to the applicant.

 

On the other hand, if the sponsor of the visa petition acts simply as an agent of the applicant, who will secure projects for the applicant once the applicant arrives in the United States, the agent needs to show that he or she has secured enough work for the applicant for the total duration of the visa. In order to show this, the agent (sponsor) needs to provide contracts with companies which reflect that there are outstanding projects and that the applicant will work on them. In this case, the applicant can receive compensation from any company for which he or she performs projects.

Itinerary

O-1 visa applications require an itinerary, which is a detailed explanation of the nature of the events or activities where the applicant will work. The itinerary must include activities or events covering the entire period of stay of the applicant in the United States. The itinerary must reflect the beginning and end dates of each project and the project location.

Advantages of the O-1 Visa

There are many advantages to O-1 visas. O-1 visas are granted relatively quickly and are generally granted for three years with unlimited extensions if the applicant can show an ongoing project or new projects in the future. Furthermore, the O-1 visa category is more extensive than other work visa categories in terms of the eligible professions and has no annual quota cap, unlike H-1B visas. O-1 visa holders may travel in and out of the United States as often as they please. Most important is that the O-1 visa has presumed dual intent, and thus the process of adjusting status is much easier than with other visas.

Derivative Visas to the O-1 Visas

Additionally, individuals who will accompany the O-1 visa holder in a capacity that is integral to his or her work are eligible for O-2 visas, contingent upon the fact that the individual has skills or experience that is not readily available among United States citizens.

 

The immediate family of an O-1 visa holder is granted an O-3 visa. Holders of O-3 visas may attend school but do not have authorization to work.

What is the O-1 Visa?

An O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that may be obtained by individuals who possess extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement, indicated by a level of expertise or accomplishment that is higher than their peers in the same industry or profession. O-1 visa requirements have steadily grown more onerous throughout the years. Obtaining this visa without a lawyer can be difficult even for highly qualified individuals.

Who qualifies for the O-1 Visa?

The criteria for qualifying as an individual who possesses “extraordinary ability” or “extraordinary achievement” varies among professions but can generally be demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim or by a record of skills and experience which is not of a general nature and is critical.

 

 

Individuals claiming extraordinary ability in the “arts” do not need to be the principal creators or performers. Personnel essential to the creation or performance may also qualify for the O-1 visa. This includes, directors, set designers, choreographers, orchestrators, coaches, costume designers, make-up artists, state technicians, animal trainers, and more. Additionally, those possessing exceptional ability in the culinary arts qualify for the O-1 visa, as the “arts” have been determined to include culinary arts.

What are the types of O-1 Visas?

There are two types of O-1 visas: O-1A and O-1B.

 

 

O-1A visas are reserved for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This extraordinary ability must be demonstrated by national or international recognition.

 

 

O-1B visas are for individuals in the arts or motion picture or TV production who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in their respective fields.

What constitutes “extraordinary ability?”

According to USCIS, an individual claiming extraordinary ability in science, business, or athletics must show that he or she possesses a level of expertise that indicates that he or she is one of the very best in his or her respective field. Individuals claiming extraordinary ability in arts must show distinction. USCIS defines distinction as a high level of achievement in the field, which can be shown through evidence that the individual is renowned or well-known. Individuals claiming extraordinary ability in the motion picture or television industry must show that they are recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the field.

 

 

If the field is not one in which certain awards or distinctions are customarily issued, an O-1 applicant must submit comparable evidence of their extraordinary ability.

What does USCIS consider “art”?

Under the O-1 regulations, art is defined as “any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, or performing arts.”

How long does the O-1 Visa last?

O-1 visas are granted for a three-year period or for the duration of the project that the beneficiary is working on. An O-1 visa can be renewed every year thereafter in one-year increments.

Can you include family members on your O-1 visa?

Yes. Spouses and children may accompany O-1 visa holders to the United States on O-3 status. However, O-3 visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States.

Can you include assistants on your O-1 visa?

Individuals that must accompany an O-1 visa holder to assist him or her in a specific event or events may accompany the O-1 visa holder to the United States on O-2 status as long they meet three criteria.

 

1. The person has to be an integral part of the performance or event.

 

2. The person must have critical skills and experience with the O-1 visa holder that cannot be performed by others.

 

3. The person must maintain a foreign residence as evidence his or her intent to return to his or her home country.

What are the alternatives to the O-1 Visa?

Depending on the field in which the applicant works, he or she may qualify for different visas if they cannot meet the strict requirements of the O-1.

 

 

Individuals seeking a job in the United States in a specialty occupation may qualify for the H-1B visa. See the H-1B section for more information about the requirements H-1B visa.

 

 

Internationally recognized individual athletes, or athletes that are part of an internationally recognized team may qualify for the P-1A visa.

 

 

Individuals that are members of internationally recognized entertainment groups may qualify for the P-1B visa. See the P-1 Visa section for more information about the P-1A and P-1B visas.

What documents should I gather?

If you believe that you qualify for the O-1 visa, you should start gathering the following documents:

 

– Receipts of or nominations for significant national or international awards;

 

– Contracts;

 

– Affidavits from employers and experts in your field;

 

– Documentation regarding membership in organizations requiring outstanding achievement in your field;

 

– Documentation regarding the event for which you are traveling to the United States.

How long does it take to get an O-1 Visa?

The processing time for the O-1 visa is comparatively short. USCIS typically adjudicates O-1 visa petitions in about 3 months. However, if the sponsor/agent elects to pay more for premium processing, USCIS will adjudicate the application within 2 weeks.

Can you do premium processing for an O-1 Visa?

Yes, you may request premium processing for your O-1 visa petition. Requesting premium processing ensures that your petition will be adjudicated within fifteen days of receipt. A request for premium processing requires an additional filing fee of $1,410.

What is an advisory opinion and when is it required?

To be considered for the O-1 visa, all petitions must include a written advisory opinion from a union or management group describing the petitioner’s achievements. If the intended field does not have a union group to issue an advisory opinion, the petitioner may submit an opinion from an expert source. It is important to note that advisory opinions are advisory and are therefore not binding on USCIS.

 

 

O-2 visa petitions must also include advisory opinions from the appropriate union or management group. Such advisory opinions must be issued by the same group issuing the advisory opinion for the O-1 petitioner and they must describe the necessity of the O-2 petitioner and his or her working relationship with the O-1 petitioner.

 

 

The advisory opinion requirement may be waived where the field does not have a union eligible to issue such opinions. Additionally, if an O-1 visa holder is seeking an extension of status, the visa holder is not required to submit another advisory opinion.

Can you self-petition for the O-1 visa?

No, a potential O-1 visa holder cannot petition for him- or herself. A potential visa holder must have either an agent or employer petition on his or her behalf.

What is the difference between having an agent sponsor you and having a company sponsor you?

An O-1 beneficiary may be sponsored by an agent or directly by a U.S. employer.

What is the difference between having an agent sponsor you and having a company sponsor you?

An O-1 beneficiary may be sponsored by an agent or directly by a U.S. employer.

 

An agent is a person or company hired as a representative of the O-1 beneficiary. If a potential O-1 visa holder is sponsored by an agent, the potential beneficiary does not need to have received a job offer or commit to working with a particular employer to qualify for the O-1 visa. The O-1 beneficiary must be sponsored by the same agent throughout the duration of his or her status.

 

 

A potential O-1 beneficiary may also be sponsored directly by a potential employer. If the beneficiary is sponsored directly by the employer, the beneficiary must only work for the employer petitioner

Can you apply for a green card after being in the U.S. on an O-1 visa?

Since the O-1 is considered a dual-intent visa, an O-1 visa holder may apply for a green card without violating their nonimmigrant status. A dual-intent visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the visa holder to apply for their green card while in nonimmigrant status.

 

 

To apply for the green card, the visa holder should consult with an immigration professional to determine which type of green card would be better suited for the applicant. The most common course is for the O-1 visa holder to pursue the EB-1A visa. Although the requirements for the O-1 and EB-1A visas are very similar, it should be noted that the standard used in adjudicating EB-1A visas is very strict. See the EB-1 visa section for more information on the requirements and standard for the EB-1A and EB-1B visas.

You Will Work Directly with a
New York City O-1 Visa Lawyer

We emphasize on clear communication and a personal approach. Our clients work directly with an attorney from the initial consultation through the resolution of the case. We are quick to respond to client needs, available to answer your questions and intent on keeping you informed of the status of your case.

Need help with any kind of O-1 Visa issues? Contact us now!

OUR OTHER IMMIGRATION SERVICES

Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Immigrants

Few areas of law impact the long-term future of individuals and businesses as much as immigration law. The attorneys at C.T. Lee & Associates understand this, which is why we carefully analyze every client’s needs before developing a strategy that is designed to achieve each client’s goals as effectively and cost-efficiently as possible. See below for our list of services within immigration.