The O-1 “outstanding” visa category is a visa category for foreign nationals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletes which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. An O-1 must be filed by the U.S. petitioning employer although it is not required that the foreign national will be performing services requiring a person of O-1 caliber.
The USCIS has defined “extraordinary ability” in the in the sciences, education, business, or athletics as “[a] level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” To prove extraordinary ability in this category, the foreign national must demonstrate either the receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least three of the following:
The USCIS has set forth different criteria for proving distinction in the arts, which is defined as “distinction” and “a high level of achievement…evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.” The foreign national must have received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or have evidence of at least three of the following:
Within the O visa category is O-2, for individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance. For the O-1A athlete, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B artist, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The petitioning employer must further establish that the O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1. Dependents of the principal O-1 are eligible for O-3 visa classification. An O-1 petition can be granted for up to three years provided that the petitioning employer can demonstrate the need for the O-1 visa holder’s services for that amount of time.
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