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O1 Visas


An O-1Visa is a US employment based visa given to people with “extraordinary ability” in the fields of Arts, Athletics, Business, Education, or Science. The category "O-1 Visa" actually refers to two distinct work visas, an O-1A and an O-1B Visa. Although their benefits are the same, the criteria needed to qualify for the visas are different. Those seeking a to work in the field of Arts must apply for an O-1B Visa, while those seeking to work in the fields of Athletics, Business, Education, or Science will be applying for an O-1A Visa.

If granted an O-1 Visa, you can bring both your support staff and your dependents. The O-1 Visa allows you to live and work in the US for your ‘sponsor’, or the employer you applied for the Visa with. If your sponsor is an agent, you can work for any employer in the US, provided they contract with you through your sponsoring agent. In order to qualify for an O-1 Visa you have to show that you have a job offer in the US, and that you have achievements in your field of work that tend to demonstrate you have an ‘extraordinary ability’. An O-1 Visa is sometime referred to as an ‘artist visa’ because it is the visa of choice for foreign artists working in the US, although it is not exclusively for artists. Some examples of the diverse field of O-1 Visa holders are Doctors, Professors, Executives, Actors, and Baseball players.

The processing time for an O-1 Visa is approximately 3 months.

Who is eligible

Eligibility differs based on whether you are applying for an O-1A Visa or an O-1B Visa.

Benefits

You can live in the US
You can work in the US
You can freely travel in and out of the US
You can bring O-3 Visa dependents with you
You can study in the US part-time
You do not need to prove intent to return home
You can freely transfer to a different visa
You can pursue permanent residency
No limit on number distributed by the US

Limits

You must do only the work you applied to do
Your visa is tied to your sponsoring job
It will not lead to permanent residency

Process

The content of the Visa package varies based on whether you are applying for an O-1A or O-1B visa, but the process is the same. You cannot apply more than a year before your job starts, and the whole process usually takes three months.

1. Compile your application packet with your lawyer.
2. Send out your application packet to USCIS. The decision times vary, but generally 2-6 weeks.
3. If necessary, answer any RFE’s you receive with your lawyer.
4. Receive your approval notice in the mail.
5. Get your Visa from an Embassy
            A. Locate a US Consulate (also known as embassy) that you can get to easily.
            B. Make an appointment for an O Visa.
            C. Complete the DS-160 Form online.
            D. Schedule your appointment and pay online.
            E. Go to Visa Interview.
            F. Get Visa Stamped Passport in Mail.
6. That's it! Welcome to the US!

You should get an appointment time 1-2 weeks from when you book it online. At the appointment you have an interview. You will find out if you were approved at the end of the interview, and your passport will be mailed back to you with a “stamp” in it about 1 week after this interview. That stamp is your O-1 Visa.

Going to the US

The O-1 approval notice will have a start date for your work. You can travel to the US 10 days before that start date to “get settled”. Some visas require you to show that you are coming back to your home country, and therefore you need a return flight. The O-1 Visa is not one of them. Feel free to buy a one way ticket and work out the details of your return later.

Costs

USCIS Application Fee         $325
MRV Visa Fee                      $190
Premium Processing Fee*    $1225
Visa Issuance Fee                Depends on Country, usually between $0-100

*Optional, restricts USCIS response time to two weeks.