The O visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics

What Is O-Visa ?

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

Classification of O Visas

The O nonimmigrant visas can be classified into the following categories 

O-1A: Individuals possessing extraordinary ability in education, business, science, or athletics.  

O-1B: Foreign nationals possessing nationally or internationally acclaimed, extraordinary ability in arts or extraordinary achievement in motion pictures or television industry. 

O-2: Individuals accompanying an O-1 individual to assist in a specific event or performance. 

O-3: Individuals who are spouses or children of the O-1 and O-2 categories.

General Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability, sustained national or international acclaim, and must temporarily come to the U.S. to work in an area that requires extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in science, education, business, or athletics means related contributions of major significance in the field of endeavor.Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Meaning, a high level of achievement as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above the normal to the extent that the person is described as prominent, leading, or well-known in arts.

To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must show a very high level of accomplishment evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the industry. The law Office Of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, can help an O-1 visa applicant determine the eligibility criteria and fulfill all the requirements in the visa application under the respective category.

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Other Type Of Work Visa

Application Process for obtaining an O-1 visa

The petitioner should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions.  The petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien’s services. To avoid delays, the Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment. In addition to Form I-129,

the Petitioner must submit the following documentary evidence-

Advisory Opinion : The Petitioner must provide a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the advisory opinion must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.
Exception: If the Petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, does not exist, the decision will be based on the evidence of record.<

When the Advisory Opinion includes a watermark or other distinctive marks to confirm the document’s authenticity, petitioners should submit to USCIS the version containing the watermark or other distinguishing marks. Copies of documents that do not have the watermark or other distinctive marks may raise doubts about the authenticity of the document and may result in processing delays. The requirement of Advisory Opinion can be waived if the beneficiary is proven to have extraordinary ability in the arts field and is seeking readmission to perform similar services within two years of the date of prior consultation. If that’s the case, the agent or employer must submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation with the petition. To avoid delays in your visa application process, consult our immigration attorneys, who can seamlessly guide an O-1 visa applicant through the application process.

A contract between Petitioner and beneficiary

Submit a copy of a written contract or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement of employment for which the beneficiary will be employed.
Note: USCIS will accept an oral contract, as evidenced by the summary of the elements of the oral agreement. Such evidence may include but is not limited to

  • emails between the contractual parties,
  • a written summation of the terms of the agreement, or
  • any other evidence which demonstrates that an oral agreement was created.

Evidence demonstrating O-1 eligibility

The Petitioner must submit evidence demonstrating extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, business, education, athletics, or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture industry. The record must include at least three different types of documentation corresponding to those listed in the regulations or comparable evidence in certain circumstances. The evidence must, as a whole, demonstrate that O-1 beneficiary meets the relevant standards for classification.

Itineraries – The Petitioner must explain –

  • The nature of the events or activities (in the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary abilities)
  • The beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and
  • A copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable.

Petitioner also needs to demonstrate that the beneficiary is temporarily coming to the US to work in an area requiring an employee with extraordinary ability in your field.

Agents – The US agent can be –

  • The actual employer of the O-1 beneficiary,
  • A representative of both O-1 beneficiary and the employer, or
  • An agent authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer.

Application Process O-2 Visa – Same as for O-1 visa

Consultation – Same as for O-1 visa

Agents – Same as for O-1 Visa

Evidentiary Criteria for O-2

The evidence should establish the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 beneficiary with the O-1 beneficiary and that the beneficiary has substantial experience performing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1.
In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence should establish that significant production has taken place outside the United States and will take place inside the United States, and that the continuing participation of the O-2 beneficiary is essential to the successful completion of the production.

Post Petition Approval

Once the visa petition is approved for O-1/O-2 by USCIS, the beneficiary can apply at a US embassy or consulate for the visa. The Department of State (DOS) establishes visa application processing and issuance fees.

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay

Initial Period of Stay – Up to 3 years
Extension of Stay – USCIS will determine the time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to 1 year.
As an O nonimmigrant, the beneficiary must be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. The beneficiary may only be authorized to work during the validity period of the petition.

Family of O-1 and O-2 Visa Holders

Any accompanying or following spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, subject to the same admission period and limitations as the O-1/O-2 nonimmigrant. Under this classification, they may not work in the United States, but they may engage in a full or part-time study on an O-3 visa.

Changing Employers

If you are an O-1 nonimmigrant in the United States and want to change employers, the new employer must file Form I-129 with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. If an agent filed your original petition, your new employer must file an amended petition with evidence showing they are your new employer and a request for an extension of stay.

Material Change in Terms and Conditions of Employment

If there has been any material change in the terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the Petitioner must file an amended petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.
Note: There are special rules for athletes. When professional athletes with O-1 nonimmigrant status are traded from one team to another, employment authorization will continue with the new team for 30 days, during which time the new employer must file a new Form I-129.
The simple act of filing Form I-129 within these 30 days extends the employment authorization at least until the petition is adjudicated. If the new employer does not file a new Form I-129 within 30 days of the trade, the athlete loses the employment authorization. The athlete also loses the employment authorization if the new Form I-129 is denied.

Return Transportation

If the employment of an O nonimmigrant beneficiary is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer must pay for the reasonable cost of return transportation to the O nonimmigrant’s last place of residence before entering into the United States. If an agent filed the petition for the employer, the agent and the employer are equally responsible for paying these costs.
The Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, has filed many successful O petitions for renowned actors, singers, musicians, and scientists. Therefore, we know the amount and kind of documentation required and can give an accurate opinion on the cases that are likely to get approved and once which are not.
To reach out to our immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, mail at prashanthi@reddyesq.com or call us at 212-354-1010.


Technically there are three types of O visas, Q1 is for people with extraordinary ability in the field of art, television and motion pictures, Q2 is for support staff of Q1 holders, and Q3 is for family members of the Q1 holders.

Yes, an O visa requires sponsorship, but it is not mandatory; unlike other work visas, the sponsor may be a company. Any individual who is a US citizen can become the sponsor.

The O-1 visa is valid for a maximum of three years, and in most cases, USCIS issues the visa for a period specific event, production or activity for a short period.

Yes, the answer is one apply for a change to status to green card while in status subject to the condition the person adheres to green card guidelines.

From the perspective of work visas, both Q and H1B visas carry similar benefits, but they apply for specific cases. Q is specifically for people in the art, entertainment and media industry for a shorter period, and H1B is for professionals in a specialty occupation in science, engineering and management to work with a US employer for a more extended period. As per common knowledge, H1-B is always suggested for people in the early or mid-stage of their career, whereas O is people who have already advanced in their profession. 

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