In this blog, we will walk you through the O-1 visa category,  define the meaning of extraordinary ability, and differentiate what is an extraordinary ability and what is not.

What is an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa is designed for those individuals who possess 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. 

Here are some key points to remember before getting an O-1 visa:

  1. Extraordinary Ability: The O-1 visa is specifically for individuals with extraordinary ability in fields such as sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or the motion picture or television industry. This means that the individual must have achieved exceptional levels of expertise and recognition in their respective fields.
  2. Recognition: To qualify for an O-1 visa, the individual must have received significant recognition nationally or internationally for their extraordinary ability or achievements. This can be evidenced through awards, memberships in prestigious organizations, published work, or media coverage.
  3. Job Offer: A crucial requirement for the O-1 visa is to have a job offer from a U.S. employer. The employer must provide a written advisory opinion confirming the individual’s extraordinary ability and the need for their services in the United States.
  4. No Annual Limit: Unlike certain other visa categories, there is no annual limit or cap on the number of O-1 visas that can be issued. This means that qualified individuals can apply for the visa at any time throughout the year.
  5. Petition Process: The O-1 visa application process involves the U.S. employer filing a petition on behalf of the individual. The petition needs to include comprehensive documentation proving the individual’s extraordinary ability and the job offer. It is recommended to work with an experienced immigration attorney during this process.
  6. Duration and Extensions: The initial period of stay granted on an O-1 visa is typically up to three years. Extensions are possible in one-year increments, provided that the individual’s work in the United States continues to require their extraordinary ability.

What is an Extraordinary Ability and what is not?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services defines an “extraordinary ability” as those individuals with proven skills in the field of science, medicine, education, athletics, business, art, and entertainment. An “extraordinary achievement” can be demonstrated if an individual received an internationally recognized award such as Nobel Prize, Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award. 

Vikram, a film director from India who is studying advanced film production and technology in the United States had a consultation with our Immigration Attorney, Seth Finberg. He mentioned that he is interested in the O-1B visa, which is granted to those individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts specifically in the category of television and film. 

Unfortunately, Vikram did not meet the standards set by the USCIS about extraordinary ability and achievement. It is not enough to prove that there are some production companies in California which are interested in his services and his career was not long enough. Therefore, he is not qualified for an O-1B visa. 

One good example of a strong O-1A visa applicant would be Unmukt Chand, a right-handed top order batsman. Umukt was the captain of India’s U-19 Cricket World Cup winning team and was also the “Man of the Match” for the final. In addition, he successfully authored a book published in 2013 titled, “The Sky is the Limit” and did commentaries for the 2020 U-19 World Cup and Caribbean Premier League on Star Sports 1 Hindi, respectively.  

Another great example of an O-1B would be Atif Aslam, a Pakistani actor, playback vocalist, lyricist, and composer known for his popular songs both in Pakistan and India. Aslam was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in 2008, Pakistani’s government’s fourth highest civilian honor. After being nominated for the best singer in Pakistan, Aslam was then awarded a star in the Dubai Walk of Fame in 2019. He was also featured in 2020’s Forbes Asia’s 100 Digital Stars because of his exceptional achievements. 

If you are planning to embark on your journey towards getting employment in the United States using an O-1 visa, our immigration attorney, Seth Finberg is ready to give legal advice and guide you throughout the process. We have helped several extraordinary individuals enter the United States and we can help you with your O-1 visa too!

Schedule a consultation here

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: