If you were not selected in the H-1B lottery, you feel you may have exhausted all other visa options and you consider yourself to be at the top of your field, then an O-1 visa may be the right option for you.
The O-1 is a nonimmigrant (temporary) work-authorized status available to foreign nationals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics and are coming to the U.S. to work within the field of their extraordinary ability. The O-1 extends to the following subcategories:
How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. on an O-1?
Ordinarily, O-1 status is initially granted for a period of 3 years. However, depending on the scope of the work, the period of stay may be granted for less time. Once the initial 3-year period is up, you can continue to extend the O-1 indefinitely in increments of 1 or 3 years. Please note that there is no max out date.
If you plan to continue working for the same employer and in the same position, USCIS will typically grant only a one-year extension, unless you chose to consular process, in which case you can extend for another three years.
If you no longer wish to remain at your current employer or in your current position, you can apply for a new O-1 either:
If you apply for a new O-1 status based on the three criteria above, you can extend for an additional 3-year period.
Does an O-1 Require Employer Sponsorship?
An O-1 does not allow an individual to self-petition nor does it permit self-employment. However, one of the benefits of the O-1 is that it permits a variety of different working arrangements in the U.S. The O-1 petition must be filed by one the following:
For any of the employer arrangements listed above, USCIS does require that the petitioning employer/agent submit a copy of the contract or summary of the agreement between the parties.
Financial Obligations of my Employer
Your employer must serve as your petitioner for an O-1 petition. However, either you or your employer can pay the fees associated with filing an O-1 petition. For example, you can pay the legal fees and your employer could pay the filing fees or vice versa.
Additionally, there is not a required salary minimum that your employer is obligated to pay you. Although, in the event your employer terminates your employment for any reason other than your voluntary resignation, the employer is required to pay a reasonable cost of return transportation to your last place of residence outside of the U.S.
What Evidence Can be Provided for an O-1A?
O-1A status requires that the individual have extraordinary ability in the field of science, education, business, or athletics. Extraordinary ability means that the individual has reached a level of expertise demonstrating that they are one of a very small percentage of people who have risen to the very top of their field.
To qualify, one must have received a major, internationally recognized award (e.g., Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize), or must have at least 3 of the following criteria:
What Evidence Can be Provided for an O-1B?
O-1B status applies to those have extraordinary achievement with respect to motion picture and television productions, as commonly defined in the industry. In order to demonstrate extraordinary achievement for an O-1B, an individual must have achieved a very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry. Ordinarily, this is evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition that is significantly above what is ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture or television field.
To qualify, one must have received a significant national or international award or prize in the particular field (e.g., Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, Director’s Guild Award), or must have at least 3 of the following criteria:
If you feel you have risen to the top of your field or if you feel that you can provide evidence of the at least 3 of the above discussed criteria, then you may meet the requirements to obtain O-1 nonimmigrant status. Our experienced employment-based attorneys can answer any questions you have and provide advice whether the O-1 is the best visa option for you.
Please contact our attorneys to schedule a consultation.