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The O-1 Visa: An attractive alternative to traditional work visas (H1B/L1A/L1B)


The O visa

Basics:

The O nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses 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.

The subcategories of O visa are:

  • O1-A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics

  • O1-B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry

  • O2: Those accompanying O1 to perform at the specific event for which O1 is granted

  • O3: Dependents of O1

Eligibility:

  • Demonstrated extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim

  • Coming temporarily to the United States to perform services in the area of extraordinary ability

  • Extraordinary ability generally implies small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor

While the qualifying criteria for O1 seems dauting, it is possible to obtain an O1 visa as an alternative to the most sought work visas such as the H1B/L1A/L1B since these also require advancement in the field of endeavor. Further, the O1 visa is free from several strict regulations that make obtaining the other work visas harder, for example – annual cap on number of visas, lottery selections, wage rates, higher filing fees. Finally, coming to the US in O1 status could also open the door for the EB1A/B green cards. Many employers and employees ignore considering the O visa as an alternative because of lack of understanding and the seemingly difficult path to the O. It is therefore highly recommended that you consult an attorney to determine whether O-1 is possible.

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