The O1 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa provided for people who possess extraordinary ability in some specific field such as business, art, education, science, or athletics. The O1 visa is approved for people who have demonstrated some exceptional achievements in those fields and who are recognized nationally or internationally for those accomplishments.
Initially, the O1 visa holders are allowed to stay in the United States for three years and work in their field of expertise. An additional possibility for all holders of this visa is the unlimited number of times their O1 visa could be extended, which provides all holders to live legally, stay and work in the United States longer than three years. It is also important to emphasize those holders of the O1 visa are allowed to work for several different employers in the United States. The most significant benefit of the O1 visa, of course, is connected to the status of dual intent visa, which means that its petitioners can have an intent to apply for a permanent Green Card.
The status of family members for the holder of the O1 visa is also specially arranged. Namely, by getting approved for an O1 visa, the spouse and unmarried children up to 21 years old are permitted to accompany the holder of the O1 visa to the United States by issuing them the O3 visa. The regulations of the O3 visa imply that the family members will be considered as dependents and that they will not have the permit to work, but still, they can attend US schools.
Still, because of those extensive requirements, very few people can get this O1 visa. This is the reason why you should acknowledge the tiniest details of the whole process.
Depending on which type of extraordinary ability you are proving to get the approval of the O1 visa, there are two types of those visas.
O1A visa – that is provided for experts in the field of education, science, athletics, or business.
The petitioners for O1A visa can prove their extraordinary abilities by meeting the standards of One-Time Achievements, such as the Nobel prize or Oscar, Pulitzer, Emmy, or Olympic medal, rewards which are internationally recognized and valued. Another possibility is to fulfill some of the Evidentiary Criteria for the O1A visa.
If the petitioner for an O1A visa hasn’t received any of the major internationally recognized awards, in that case, the specific extraordinary ability should be proven by fulfilling at least three out of eight criteria listed below:
O1B visa is provided for all the virtuosos that achieved a high level of accomplishment in arts.
Since the term arts means an extensive range of occupations related to an artistic or creative activity that could be related to fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts, the list of artistic endeavors is not limited to the principal creators and performers only. Still, it is expanded to other essential members such as directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, musical supervisors, coaches, arrangers, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians, and animal trainers.
If the petitioner for an O1B visa hasn’t received any of the major internationally recognized awards, in that case, the specific extraordinary ability should be proven by fulfilling at least three criteria that are very similar to the above-mentioned ones.
There are other requirements and conditions that have to be fulfilled in order to get approval for the O1 visa.
Since very few people can apply for the O1 visa, and since the approval is conditioned on your specific qualifications and the following documentation which can prove your expertise and specialization in the specific field, it is of tremendous importance to get all the documentation carefully prepared. Your best confidential advisor in this whole complex process of getting the O1 visa could certainly be your immigration lawyer, who will guide you throughout the whole case and show you the exact steps to the visa approval.
After identifying the needed documentation that will prove your extraordinary abilities in the specific field, with the assistance of an immigration lawyer, the very next step is to fulfill Form I-129 for a Nonimmigrant worker. Your immigration lawyer will also file an O-supplement and all the supporting documentation along with the Form I-129. If you are applying for the very first time for the O1 visa, then you will apply for it in the Consulate of your home country. Once your Form I-129 is approved, you will be able to apply for the O1 visa.
Although there is the possibility to extend the O1 visa for unlimited number of times, and since the O1 visa is classified as dual intent visa, which means that when applying for the O1 visa, you can have the intent of getting the Green Card, this type of visa is still temporary and a non-immigrant one. This means that the O1 visa is not the direct path to a Green Card and that a holder needs to get into a specific process of obtaining the permanent stay.
If the holder of the O1 visa has determined to apply for a Green Card, in that case, the very first step to be made is converting a non-immigrant visa status to an immigrant visa status. There are several categories of Green Cards you can apply for, and in most cases, those are connected to Employment-based or Family-based Green Cards. That implies that your petition for an immigrant status visa has to be approved at the USCIS, first. After your petition is approved, you can proceed to the Adjustment of Status filing Form I-480, which is the most common solution for the holders of the O1 visa. The second option is heading to Immigrant visa processing, so-called consular processing, which implies petition for an immigrant visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. After your immigration petition is approved and you get your visa number, you will be required to file Form DS-260 with the Department of State, afterwards, you will have an interview at the consulate or an embassy in your home country, which will be the last step for attaining an immigrant visa status.
Another possibility for gaining a Green Card for the holders of the O1 visa is through other types of visas closely related to work. Those visas are classified like:
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