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O Visa

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O visa is a temporary worker visa that can be considered as better alternative of L, H, J, or E classifications if the individual has extraordinary ability in his or own area of expertise.
O visa allows individuals with extraordinary ability in the fields of science, arts, education, business, or athletics or certain aliens accompanying or assisting those aliens and their family members to come to the United States on temporary visa to work in their area of extraordinary ability or achievement. Only individuals may apply for O-1visa. Multiple aliens that are assisting or accompanying the alien who is qualified as O-1 visa are eligible to apply for O-2 visas. To be eligible for O-2 visa, multiple aliens seeking approval of O-2 visas must be assisting for the same events or performances during the same period of time and in the same location. Also, O-2 applicants who are the beneficiaries of the same O-2 petition are not required to seek visas at the same U.S. consulate abroad.
O visa is a serious option that can be considered for highly accomplished physicians and scientists in their respective fields, with job offers at medical or scientific research institutions, hospitals, and other organizations; for athletes who participated or demonstrated their abilities in internationally recognized sport events; and entertainers and artists that are recognized internationally or nationally. Advantages of O visa are that there is no numerical limitation set for the number of visas that can be allotted per year, and number of years an alien can stay in the United States. Usually USCIS allows individuals to stay in the United States till the completion of event or activity or group of events or activities for which he or she admitted, initially, up to three years. Usually extensions of stays are usually granted up to one year to continue or complete the same event or activity, which they were admitted.
USCIS rules provide that only a person who is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of his or field of endeavor qualities for this type of extraordinary ability. To determine, whether one qualifies to be admitted in O visa, the law establishes three different standards. The most exacting stand applies for the individuals in the sciences, business, educations and athletics. An intermediate standard applies to aliens of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or TV industries, and a much less rigorous standard applies for aliens in arts.
To qualify for O visa, the alien who is in the field of sciences, education, business or athletics must be bale to demonstrate their ability by providing evidence of receipt of a major or internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, or at least three of the following documentation:
  1. Documentation showing that the alien received any national or international recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  2. Alien’s Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field;
  3. Alien’s publications in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien concerning the alien’s work in the field;
  4. Alien’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the field or an allied field of specialization;
  5. Alien’s contributions that are of major significance in the field of scientific, scholarly, or business related;
  6. Any scholarly articles that are authored by alien in the field in professional journals or other major media;
  7. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  8. Highs salary or other remuneration commanded by the alien for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence; and
  9. Any other comparable evidence.
Aliens who are of extraordinary ability in the field of arts must require “distinction” as per USCIS to qualify for O-1 visa. USCIS defines “distinction” as a high level of achievement in the field of arts, as evidenced by a skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person is described as prominent, leading or well known in the field of arts.
USCIS rules define “art” to include any field of creative activity or endeavor such as but not limited to fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. Generally, aliens that are considered to be involved in the field of arts are directors, set directors, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, make up artists, flight masters, stage technicians, animal trainers, architect/urban designer etc.
To show alien’s distinction, USCIS rules provide that the alien must demonstrate by the following evidence that the alien has been nominated for or has been the recipient of significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award, or at least three of the following:
  1. Alien has or will perform in a lead or starring role in production or events that have a distinguished reputation;
  2. Alien has received national or international recognition for achievements;
  3. Alien has performed lead or starring role or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  4. Alien has record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes;
  5. Alien has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which alien is engaged;
  6. Alien has commanded or now commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field; and
  7. Any other comparable evidence.
Aliens who would like to come to the United States as a person of extraordinary ability in the motion picture or television industries must present evidence of a skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized outstanding notable or leading in the motion picture or television field. The standard that is set by the USCIS for these people are intermediary, and therefore it is more exacting standard than the standard applicable to extraordinary aliens in arts but less rigorous than the standard applicable for extraordinary aliens in sciences, business, education, and athletics.
In order to approve O visa, it is required that the employer or agent must consult with peer group, labor organization, or management organization regarding the alien’s qualifications or nature of work to be done. Usually the consultation takes form of a written advisory opinion from the peer group, labor organization or management organization. If a consultation has taken place within the prior two years with regard to previous admission for similar services rendered for the aliens with extraordinary ability in arts, the requirement of consultation with labor union is waived. USCIS must notify appropriate union within five days, if a consultation waiver is granted, along with a copy of the petition and supporting documentation to union. Also, Freelancing is not permitted for the aliens entered into United States under O visa. An alien in O classification is admitted only to perform services in specific identified events at the time of filing petition. However, an artist or entertainer who will undertake some other performance or engagements once he is in the United States is permitted to do so, and no amended petition is required. Also, O visa holder may seek simultaneously adjustment of status if he or she present in the United States, and the employer is obligated to pay O visa holder for the return trip whose employment is terminated prior to the expiration of authorized period of stay.
Spouse and children of O visa holder may accompany him to the United States under O-3 visa. Spouse and children are not generally required to obtain F-1 visa to study in the US. The family members of O visa holder are not permitted to engage in employment unless they obtain appropriate work visa.
Finally, it is important to note that obtaining O status for the alien requires obtaining advisory opinion from peer group, labor organization, or management organization; approval by the USCIS of an O petition supported by the advisory opinion, and issuance of O visa by the U.S. Consulate abroad based on the approved petition by the USCIS.
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