The O-1 visa category is nonimmigrant visa designed for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. Dependents and spouses of O-1 visa holders are also eligible to obtain O-3 visas.
While the exact eligibility requirements for the O-1 visa vary based on the field, there are some commonalities in terms of application requirements.
Consultation Letter Requirement: As a part of his/her O-1 petition, the applicant must obtain a consultation letter from an appropriate peer group, labor organization, or management organization regarding his/her qualifications or achievements. “Peer group” refers to a group or organization consisting of practitioners of the alien’s occupation. Advisory consultations are labor consultations, unless no appropriate union exists.
Duration of Stay: The initial period of stay for an O-1 visa is a maximum of three years, and is based on how much time the alien will need to perform their duties, per the petitioning employer. The visa can be renewed for 1 year at a time thereafter, based on evidence that the alien’s presence is required to continue the work they were originally hired to do.
There is technically no limit on the number of years an O-1 nonimmigrant visa holder can stay in the U.S. He/she may continue to stay in the U.S. as long as the O-1 visa and O-1 status are valid and unexpired.
In order to be eligible for an O-1 visa in the field of sciences, education, business, or athletics, the alien must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing the following evidence:
Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as Nobel Prize, or At least three of the following:
In order to be eligible for an O-1 visa in the field of arts, the alien must demonstrate “distinction.” For the purposes of immigration, “Distinction” means a high level of achievement in the field of arts as evidenced by a degree of 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.
The term “art” means to include any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to fine arts, culinary arts, visual arts, and performing arts. Additionally, aliens engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers but also other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, coaches, arrangers, stage technicians, costume designers, makeup artists, musical supervisors, flight masters, and animal trainers. The position of architect/urban designer also falls within the field of fine arts.
The following evidence is required to establish the O-1 eligibility:
1. 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 an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award, or
2. At least three of the following:
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