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O1 Visa


San Diego, CA

What is the O1 Visa?

The O-1 visa is for individuals with marked distinction in the sciences, education, business or athletics. The applicant must be one of a small percentage who have arisen to the very top of their field of endeavor. In general, the applicant must demonstrate sustained national or international “RECOGNITION” for achievements or expertise through extensive documentation.

O-1 visa extensions can be obtained if the person of extraordinary ability is needed in the United States beyond three years. An important reason to consider an O-1 visa when possible is that essential assistants of this individual with extraordinary abilities may qualify for their own specialized visas, which allow them entry into America for work as well. For example, a scientist might be able to obtain an O2 Visa for essential lab assistant or actor who needs one on staff could get help from someone with expertise in publicity and marketing.

What Defines “Extraordinary Ability”

USCIS defines “extraordinary ability” as “a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor,” as proven by “sustained national or international acclaim” and that one’s achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.

what is art?

  • Any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts and performing arts.
  • Legislative intent is expansive, intended to include not only performers but also essential technical or creative personnel – set designers, choreographers, music coaches, animal trainers, etc.

O-1 Visa Types

  • O-1A Visa: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry);
  • O-1B Visa: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry;
  • O-2 Visa: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance; and
  • O-3 Visa: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

Benefits of the O-1 Visa over H-1B Visas and Other Work Visas

There are many really compelling reasons to choose an O-1 visa over a H-1B visa:

  1. The first advantage of the O-1 is that there’s no annual quota imposed on it. With the H-1B, there is a “regular cap” and “master’s exemption” limited to 65,000 in total each year while O-1 has no limit at all.
  2. Unlike the H1B, the O1 visa does not require a minimum wage. The salary should be appropriate for an O-level caliber job though.
  3. There is always premium processing available for the O-1 Visa, giving you the option to expedite your visa.

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Immigration Attorney: Johanna M. Keamy
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O1 Visa Requirements

To qualify for an O-1 visa, you must fulfil the following requirements:

  • You must have extraordinary achievement in the field.
  • You need to furnish evidence of a degree of skill and recognition significantly above the ordinary level. 
  • The participant needs to have a contract with a US agent or employer. 
  • You cannot self-petition for the visa. 
  • The visa seeker must furnish an advisory opinion from a consulting or trade organization, or a peer group stating that the petitioner has a sustained recognition of extraordinary ability. If no peer group is available, you may include a letter from experts in the field for the advisory opinion. 
  • Proof of receipt of lesser nationally and internationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence in the petitioner’s field of work. 
  • The petitioners must have authorship of scholarly articles in their respective fields. The articles must be published with professional or major trade or media publications.
  • The O1 visa requirements state that the petitioner must be associated as a part of a panel as a judge of other’s works. They can also be an individual judge for the same. 
  • The petitioner must be serving in a crucial position for a recognized organization. 

Our O1 visa lawyer can also help with O1 visa change employer. If you wish to change employers, you need to file Form I-129 with the USCIS office, as listed on the form. If any agent files your form, your new employer must file an amended petition along with evidence proving that they are your new employer, as well as request an extended stay on your behalf for an O1 visa change employer. 

The O-1 visa being a dual intent visa, the visa holders can apply for an O1 visa green card. This is a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows any petitioner to stay in the country for 3 years and request an extended stay. It is best for you to get an employee-based O1 visa green card, i.e the EB-1 Visa.

O1 Visa Extension

As an O1 nonimmigrant visa holder, your stay in the United States will be valid for the period of the petition, with the addition of a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins. The validity will be limited to 10 days after the validity period ends. Any O1 visa holder is authorized to work during the validity period of the petition only. You can connect with us if you need an O1 visa extension. In such an event, your employer or agent needs to file the following with the USCIS:

  • Form I-129, and petition for a nonimmigrant worker.
  • A statement explaining the reasons for the extension.
  • A copy of your Form I-94, along with a copy of your arrival and departure record.
  • Your nonimmigrant status records.
  • Any supporting documents to extend the stay.
  • The spouse and children of the O1 visa holder need to file Form I-539 and apply for an extension or change of stay. 

The petitioner must fulfil a few O1 visa extension criteria:

  • The participant must possess a valid passport throughout their visit to the U.S.
  • You must be legally admitted into the country under an existing status. The status should not be expired.
  • The participant must not violate the conditions of their admission.
  • The petitioner must not commit any crime. This can revoke the visa. 

You should connect with us for O1 visa renewal before the expiration of your current visa. We are glad to help international professionals get their visa. You can renew your visa for one year at a time under the same employer. However, you can request for an O1 visa renewal if you are changing your employer. Anyone seeking a visa renewal or an O1 visa change employer can request a 3-year extension of their stay.

O1 Visa Sponsor

There are two types of O-1 visa sponsors: an agent and employer. An employer is a company or person that the applicant will be working for, while agents represent their skills to find them suitable work opportunities with other companies.

The sponsors needs to provide information like name, address, tax ID number and so on. They must also sign a petition request for work status of the individual and they need to promise that they will cooperate with them in any suggestions given by the applicant. Our O1 Visa Attorneys will be able to help you coordinate the necessary Visa Sponsor requirements.

O1 Visa Attorney Fee

Generally, the O1 visa attorney fee varies depending on the complexity of the visa petition. Do not worry, you will not have to spend big chunks of money from your hard-earned money. We take pride in offering affordable legal services. Here is a breakdown of the costs you need to count:

  • A mandatory expense of approximately $460.00 for I-129 petition.
  • Mandatory Nonimmigrant Visa Application fees of $190.00
  • If you want premium services, you need to pay $2,500.00
  • You also need to spend a nominal variable cost on copy, courier, postage, etc.

O1B Visa

Any foreign national with extraordinary achievement in the areas of art, film and television, can enter the United States if they have a nonimmigrant O1b visa. However, the applicant must already have a confirmed job offer at the time of applying for the visa. 

Here are a few basics of the visa:

  • Processing Time: The visa processing time depends on whether the applicant is currently in the U.S. or abroad and the workload of the service center. If you are already in the US, your status will automatically change to O-1B when your I-129 petition gets approved. This generally takes an average time of 6 months. If you are abroad, you will have to go through consular processing that involves an appointment with the embassy of the U.S. consulate. Depending on the caseload of the embassy or the consulate, your processing time will be assessed. However, you can also apply for premium processing to lessen your processing time to 15 business days. 

  • Period of Stay: The period of stay is granted for 3 years. Our attorneys can help you apply for a stay extension. You can apply innumerable times for extensions in 1-year increments only if your work requires you to remain in the U.S. all you have to do is connect with us. We will guide you through to file a new I-129 petition with the USCIS. 

  • Green Card Status: The O1b visa petitioner can also apply for a green card, like the EB-1A. But to get this, you must have extraordinary abilities in the field of art.

If you do not have any internationally recognized award, you must meet any three of the following basic artist visa USA requirements to quality :

  • The applicant must have been or will be performing in a lead role in any acclaimed plays, films, or other events. 

  • You must have recognition from organizations on a national or international scale.

  • The applicant must have a large salary appropriate to a high level of ability in your artistic field. The salary must be indicative of your extraordinary ability.

  • The artist visa USA requirements state that the visa applicant must have commercial success and must have published significant critical reviews regarding their ability in trade publications, journals, and other major media publications. 

You can also furnish some other proof of your exceptional ability. If you are confused about what you can do, feel free to connect with our visa lawyer for further legal advice and information. We have a team of attorneys specializing in immigration law services and we have helped countless people work, study and stay in the US.

Our Immigration Attorneys are experts at navigating the US immigration process for individuals, families, & entrepreneurs, including O-1 Visas.

o1B arts And motion pictures

Extraordinary ability in the arts

  • Distinction – high level of achievement in the field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered
  • Prominence – person is renowned, leading or well-known in the field of arts.

Extraordinary Achievement in motion pictures or TV Productions:

  • Must demonstrate Extraordinary Achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered
  • Person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

Evidence of Distinction/Prominence and Extraordinary Achievement

Has received or been nominated for a significant national or international award such as

  • Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award OR

Able to provide evidence of at least three (3) of the following:

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions/events with distinguished reputation (shown by reviews, ads, publicity releases, publications, etc.)
  • National or international recognition for achievements
  • Performed /will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
  • Has record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes
  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts
  • Commands/will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services

May submit comparable evidence

  • But regulations do not expressly authorize comparable evidence for motion pictures/TV

Types of Evidence

  • Reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements
  • Published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
  • Testimonials
  • Evidence of rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications.


  • Employer, agent or foreign employer through agent.
  • If multiple employers, each must file a petition, unless through agent
      • Agent for multiple employers:
        • “in the business as agent” – authorized to act on behalf of other employers for the purposes of filing the petition. (Does not have to show that is an agent outside the context of the petition)
        • Must provide detailed itinerary
        • Contracts between beneficiary and employers
        • Explanation of terms and conditions of employment

Return Transportation Obligation

files petition with USCIS

Petitioner and Employer are jointly liable for obligation

  • Form I-129 and O/P supplement, requesting:
    •     Change of status and/or extension of stay or consular processing
  • Contract or summary of the terms of the oral agreement
  • Itinerary- explanation of events/beginning and end dates
  • Consultation – Written Advisory Opinion from consulting entity
  • Evidence of Extraordinary Ability


  • A written advisory opinion or letter of no objection from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.
  • For motion picture or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.

peer groups/labor organizations

  • The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA)
  • The American Federation of Musicians (AFM)
  • Actors Equity Association (AE)
  • OTHERS….

Related Visas

  • O-2 – Essential Support Workers
    • Integral to the performance/critical skills/experience with principal visa holder
    • Similar petition process
  • O-3 – Family members
    • Spouse & children
    • or B-2 for domestic Partners
  • O-1 can Lead to Immigrant Visa Options

EB-1 – extraordinary Ability

Requirements/Legal Standard:

  • Extraordinary ability in the field through sustained national or international acclaim
  • Applicant will continue to work in the field of extraordinary ability
  • Ability to self-petition
One Time Achievement

Receipt of National or International Award such as Emmy, Grammy, Academy Award, etc..

Or 3 out of 10 Criteria:
  1.   Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field;
  2.   Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members;
  3.   Published material in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  4.   Evidence that the individual has judged the work of others in the same field, either individually  or on a panel;
  5.   Evidence of the individual’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field;
  6.   Evidence of the individual’s authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  7.   Evidence that the alien’s work has been displayed at exhibitions or showcases nationally or internationally;
  8.   Performance of a leading or critical role for organizations with distinguished reputations;
  9.   Evidence that the individual commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field;
  10. Evidence of commercial successes.

*In the alternative to these categories or in addition to these categories, the individual may also submit “other comparable evidence”

*Even if meets In addition to meeting 3 out of 10 criteria, the USCIS officer also considers the “totality of the evidence.”

*Must also demonstrate prospective benefit to the United States.

reasons to choose an O-1 visa over a H-1B visa

There are many compelling reasons to choose an O-1 visa over a H-1B visa:

    1. The first advantage of the O-1 is that there’s no annual quota imposed on it. With the H-1B, there is a “regular cap” and “master’s exemption” limited to 65,000 in total each year while O-1 has no limit at all.
    2. Unlike the H1B, the O1 visa does not require a minimum wage. The salary should be appropriate for an O-level caliber job though.
    3. There is always premium processing available for the O-1 Visa, giving you the option to expedite your visa.
    4. H-1B status is not usually granted to professionals in business where the O-1 allows greater flexibility to those in the business field.
Johanna Keamy Attorney

Professional and Experienced Immigration Law Attorney

Keamy Tavares & Associates
– Are Ready to Help You Move to the US

We’re here to help you secure your O1 visa and to ensure that the process moves along without hitches. Let Johanna and her associates be your personal chauffeur on your road towards the land of opportunity.

Let’s Help You & Your Family Make it to The US

O1 Visa Alternatives

Keamy Tavares APLC is renowned for our ability to stand in your shoes, understand our current situation, and therefore offer you bespoke solutions; including alternatives, where needed. Our team of experts lets by Johanna M. Keamy has assisted numerous businesses, investors, and families acquire relevant immigration statuses and visas, so let us show you how we can help!

Some O-1 Visa alternatives include;

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