Have an Exceptional Ability or Amazing Achievements? You could get an O visa to the USA!
Posted on August 1, 2016
O-1 visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievements
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for people with exceptional talent in fields like arts, athletics, business, sciences, and education, or demonstrated phenomenal achievements in the fields of TV or Motion Picture with a regional or worldwide recognition.
The O1 non-immigrant visa is classified into 4 categories:
1) O-1A: People having phenomenal talent in fields such as business, education, sports or sciences (exclusive of fields like arts, movies or TV)
2) O-1B: People with phenomenal talent in the field of Arts, Television or Motion Picture Industry.
3) O-2: People who will travel with an O-1 visa holder, craftsman or sports person, to help him/her with a performance or event.
It is offered under the conditions listed below:
a) Dependency on the O-2 individual where the O-1A individual cannot fundamentally deliver on the event or performance.
b) Dependency on the O-2 individual where the O-1B individual cannot complete his/her production plans and the O-2 individual is critical to his project completion.
c) The O-2 specialist has extensive experience in working with the O-1 individual, which cannot be replaced by any other individual in the US, and hence an important part of O-1 individual’s performance.
4) O-3: Dependents like partner/spouse, family or children of the individuals with an O-1 or O-2 Visa.
1) To fit the bill for an O-1 visa, the recipient must exhibit exceptional talent and support it with a worldwide recognition on an ongoing basis and must be visiting the USA on a temporary basis to contribute in the area of his/her excellence.
2) Remarkable talent in the fields of athletics, education, science or business or sports with an expertise and performance that is synonymous with the top performers in the world.
3) Remarkable achievements in the field of arts with distinction. The person should possess expert level skills and achievements that are recognized worldwide.
4) If the applicant is from the TV or motion picture industry then the applicant must be extremely skilled at her/his ability and recognized worldwide as a remarkable, striking or someone who is driving the film and TV industry.
How to apply for an O-1 Visa?
The applicant ought to file a petition for Nonimmigrant Workers (Form I-129), with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that has been mentioned as per the instructions on the form. It’s important to note that you do not appeal for the O-visa before one year of the actual date of commencement of your services. To avoid delays, submit your application 45 days in advance of the date of commencement of your employment.
The applicant must submit the petition for the form above along with the proof of documents for the following:
1) Consultation from the relevant authority or union
A letter from a peer group or an expert with an opinion that is advisory in nature (can include labor unions). If the applicant is from the motion picture or the TV industry then a letter of consultation from the management company responsible for management of the individual or the relevant labor union is a must.
Should the letter issued come with a watermark or other marks that affirm the genuineness of the letter, it is suggested that the applicant submit the original document that bears the same to the USCIS. Not doing so may result in delays that arise due to the USCIS asking for submission of the original documents so as to confirm that it is not dubious and indeed original. This may delay the visa processing and stall your scheduled plans. Always ensure watermarks or other document-bearing stamps are submitted in good condition as an original copy that is legible.
Exemptions to Consultation letters
In cases of one-off instances where there is an absence of a peer group or a labor union, the applicant should provide sufficient proof of record so as to enable the USCIS’ decision-making process based on the evidence submitted.
In some cases, a consultation may be exempt for a foreign applicant who is exceptionally talented in the arts field or if the applicant is looking for readmission to work in the similar capacity as he has been working in the past two years after a previous consultation. Applicants are required to submit the duplicate copy of the consultation that was submitted previously along with a waiver form and a petition requesting an exemption from submitting a consultation.
Agreement terms between the beneficiary and the petitioner:
A duplicate copy of the contractual agreement stating the terms of engagement between the applicant and the petitioner, or a written document that covers the oral terms of engagement between the two parties need to be submitted to the USCIS.
NOTE: An oral contract can be submitted to the USCIS, as long as the terms of agreement are documents and provided to the agency. Documents like written summary of the terms of engagement, mail exchanges between the concerned parties or any other form of proof that establishes the oral agreement is acceptable buy the USCIS.
For an oral contract, the written submission should contain details about:
1) Offer made by the employer
2) Terms agreed to by the worker
A document of oral agreement need not carry the signature of the agreeing parties, it just needs to contain the terms of agreement and the acceptance reach by the two consenting parties.
Your schedule during the time of your visit to the US that explains the type of even or performance scheduled, start and end dates of your tenure including a copy of the itineraries needs to be provided at the time of submitting your application form. Also, the petitioner has to provide substantial proof that establish the event schedule and justify the requested validity period for the passport.
Specialists, Consultants or Agents:
Specialists, Consultants or Agents could be the applicant’s employer, represent an employee and employer as a middleman or a mediator or agent hired by an employer in order to act on the employer’s part.
Agents representing multiple employers:
If you file a petition for O visa as an agent for multiple employers you need to provide proof that supports the fact that you are authorized to work as an agent for the employers mentioned in your petition.
In addition to submitting your Form I-129 petition, you also have to provide supporting documents that are mentioned below:
1) Itinerary of the event/performance along with the start and end dates, and extensions needed in between, if any.
2) Employer’s names, addresses of the hiring companies, event/performance venues, and location of the offices, if applicable.
3) Signed contract and terms of agreement between the employer and the employee.
After the USCIS approves the petition, the applicant can go ahead and submit an application for an O visa with the American embassy. The DOS (Department of State) decides the fee for visas and processing. For more information about the same visit: www.travel.state.gov
Agent representing Employers:
Should an agent representing the employer functionally file for a Form I-129, she/he must submit:
1) Legal agreement between the agent and the employee with details of the wage rates and other terms of agreement & employment. The legally binding assertion between the specialist and the recipient which indicates the compensation offered and alternate terms and states of livelihood. This can be a synopsis of the terms of the oral assertion or a composed contract. An agreement is not required between the applicant and the companies that will utilize his service in the end.
2) A petition that requires an applicant to work from more than one location. The applicant needs to submit the start and end date and duration of itineraries and the place of work. For agents who petition on behalf of employers, kindly note that the petition shall remain the same.
3) The USCIS is a bit lenient when it comes to the details required to be mentioned in the itinerary as the embassy does understand and account for delays or reschedules. However, it requests the applicants to inform about the duration, dates and location of an applicant’s stay.
4) The USCIS takes into account the contract agreement for understanding the terms of agreement between the applicant and the agent who is acting on behalf of an employer, hence it is required that the contract mentions the nature of relationship between the applicant and the agent and also the mode of payment for compensating the applicant. Should the terms of agreement show that the agent is completely in charge of the applicant in place of an employer, and then the agent needs to inform the embassy of it. Usually, the embassy determines an outcome depending on each case and reaches a decision based on the terms mentioned.
5) Although filing for a petition requires an evidence of the wages that are being paid to the applicant, it is not subjected to a minimum wage requirement. Neither are any wage structures applicable nor does the standard ceilings on the skills. But the petition must contain the detailed breakup of the wages offered and also the applicant’s acceptance of the same.
Keep reading this space to know more details about The O visa as we cover that in the Part 2 of the blog!
Have extraordinary talents, achievement or recognition and want to move the USA? At Y-Axis, our experienced process consultants assist you with evaluation, documentation and processing of the visa. Contact us today to schedule a free counselling session with our consultants.
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