The O1 Visa Explained: Your Options | O1 Visa Lawyer

O1 Visa General Summary

  • Artist Visa
  • Agent Visa
  • O Visa
  • O1 Visa
  • O1B Visa
  • O1A Visa
  • O-1 Visa
  • O-2 Visa
  • O-3 Visa
  • O-1A Visa
  • O-1B Visa

Summary of the O1 Visa

  • 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 O3 Visa dependents with you.
  • You can study in the US part-time.
  • You can freely transfer to a different visa.
  • You can pursue permanent residency.
  • No limit on number distributed by the US.
  • It will not lead to directly permanent residency.
  • Your visa is tied to your sponsoring job.
  • You must do only the work you applied to do (Unless on Agent O1 Visa).


An O-1 Visa 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.

Process to get the O1 Visa

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. Contact us for the latest.
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”. You do not need to buy a return ticket.

O1 Visa Law

To qualify for an O1 Visa, you must have an 'extraordinary ability' in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. You have to be sponsored by a US employer, an alien cannot sponsor themselves. The work you are coming to the US to perform must be temporary in nature, and in the same area as your extraordinary ability.

Your Petition Must Include:

Form I-129.
A contract between the employer and the alien.
An advisory opinion.

Your Petition May Include:

Letters from former employers certifying alien's extraordinary ability.
Letter from present employer certifying alien's extraordinary ability.
Letters from experts in the field certifying alien's extraordinary ability.

Your Petition Must Prove:

What your petition must prove differs depending on the field of job you are pursuing.
The three main categories are:
(1) Sciences, education, business, or athletics [referred to as O-1A];
(2) Arts [referred to as O-1B];
(3) Television and film [very unique qualifications, but falls under O-1B];

Requirements of O-1A Visa of the Sciences, Education, Business, or Athletics

(1) Evidence that the alien has recieved a major award such as the Nobel Prize.
OR, if that isn't applicable, evidence of at least three of the following:
(1) The alien has recieved awards in their field.
(2) The alien is a member of an elite association in their field.
(3) The alien has been recognized by major media for their achievements.
(4) The alien has served as a judge of talent in their field.
(5) The alien has made original scientific, scholarly, or business contributions to their field.
(6) The alien has authored scholarly articles which recieved major publication in their field.
(7) The alien has worked in a critical capacity for a distinguished organization.
(8) The alien has or will command a high salary.

Requirements of O-1B Visa of the Arts

(1) Evidence that the alien has been nominated for or won a significant national or international award such as an Academy Award or an Emmy.
OR, if that isn't applicable, evidence of at least three of the following:
(1) The alien has and will perform as a lead in distinguished events.
(2) The alien has been written about in major publications.
(3) The alien has and will perform as a lead for distinguished prganizations.
(4) The alien has record of work which has been commercially or critically successful.
(5) The alien has recieved recognition for their achievements by organizations.
(6) The alien has or will command a high salary.

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