Select foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, education, business, entertainment or athletics may qualify for an O-1 Visa. In order to qualify, the applicant must demonstrate international prominence in his/her particular area of extraordinary ability with significant documentation, usually in the form of objective evidence. Such documentation generally consists of publications in prominent newspapers, magazines, books or peer-reviewed journals; evidence of citations; patents; awards; certificates; reference letters from other prominent individuals in the field and other objective acknowledgement of extraordinary ability. A US company or agent must sponsor the foreign national for O-1 status.
The O-1 Visa may be granted for an initial 3 year period and can be extended indefinitely in 1 year increments. There is no legal limit to the amount of time a foreign national can remain in the US in O-1 status, and foreign nationals should be very careful if seeking US green card status while on an O Visa.
Filing O-1 Petitions
A petition for O-1 status must first be filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Regional Service Center within 4 months prior to the requested start date. An O-1 petition may take several months to be adjudicated, however, for an additional $1225 processing fee USCIS will adjudicate the petition in 15 days.
O-3 Visas are available to immediate family members (spouses and children under the age of 21) who are accompanying the employee to the US. O-3 Visas are generally granted for the same period as the O-1 Visa, and must be extended accordingly. Family members may attend school or university, but cannot work in the US in O-3 status.