O-1 Visas

Is there an Interview for O-1 Visa?

Is there an Interview for O-1 Visa?

Is there and interview for O-1 visa? This is a simple but important question. Knowing whether there is an interview will allow you to properly prepare your O-1 visa case. The best way to answer this question is to examine the different steps in the application process and elaborate on what you are required to do at each stage.

Understanding the Visa Application Process

The O-1 visa application process involves two major steps. In step one the U.S. employer or U.S. agent files an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with supporting documentation. This includes the O-1 beneficiary’s proof of “extraordinary ability,” an employment agreement, the employer’s business registration certificate and the appropriate filing fee. This application is filed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) at the designated service center. Generally, there is no interview at this stage.

If the I-129 petition is approved, the case will proceed to step two. Depending on the physical location of the O-1 beneficiary he or she may apply for the O-1 visa by requesting a change of status or requesting consular processing.

Change of Status: If you are in the U.S. and are in lawful status, you may apply for a change of status, using form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Status. The processing times for a change of status application are extremely delayed and you will not be able to work in O-1 status until the change of status application is approved. Although you may be eligible for a change of status, it may be more beneficial to apply for consular processing.

Consular Processing: If you would like to apply for the O-1 visa at the overseas U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate you would request consular processing. This means that you will travel to the chosen location to apply for an O-1 visa.

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Change of Status or Consular Processing Interview

A change of status application may be approved without an interview. This application is filed in the U.S. and USCIS makes a decision on whether approve or deny the request. If there is an interview, it will be conducted by an immigration services officer at the USCIS field office that has jurisdiction over your application. Where you live will determine which USCIS office is the right one to evaluate your application. The immigration officer will review your change of status application and ask questions about your background and the proposed employment opportunity.

A consular processing application is filed online with the Department of State, using form DS-160 and the overseas consulate or embassy makes a decision. This interview is conducted by a consular officer. During the consular interview, applicants are typically asked questions about their background, purpose of travel, and the O-1 visa application. The consular officer may also review the supporting documents and ask for additional information if needed. It is important for applicants to be prepared, have all necessary documents in order, and be ready to address any inquiries related to their extraordinary abilities and employment in the United States.

Sample Interview Questions for an O-1 Visa Stamp

While it is impossible to know the exact questions that the immigration or consular may ask at the interview, the following are some likely questions:

1. What is the purpose of your visit to the United States?

2. How did you become interested in your field of work?

3 What is your educational background?

4. What are your qualifications and achievements that make you eligible for the O-1 visa?

5. Can you provide examples of your extraordinary ability or achievement?

6. What is the nature of the work you will be performing in the United States?

7. How long do you intend to stay in the United States?

8. What are your plans after your stay in the United States is over?

9. Do you have any family members or dependents who will be traveling with you to the United States?

10. Have you ever been denied a visa or entry to the United States before?

11. Have you ever overstayed a visa in the United States or violated any immigration laws?

12. Can you provide evidence of your ties to your home country, such as property ownership or employment?

13. Have you ever been convicted of a crime or faced legal proceedings?

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help with Preparation

An experienced immigration attorney can increase your chances of a successful interview. The right attorney will properly prepare your application materials and provide accurate and comprehensive documentation.

My name is Cheryl Fletcher and I have been assisting O-1 visa applicants, since 2015. I have successfully helped hundreds of O-1 applicants ace their O-1 interview. As part of my strategy, I conduct a mock interview with my clients where, I review the application and supporting documents, entirely. I anticipate the questions that my client will likely face at the interview and ask these questions. We work through the best ways to answer questions and address any possible pitfalls in the application.

If you would like to put yourself in the best position possible to pass your O-1 interview, please reach out to us at 561-507-5772 or use the booking button below to request a personal meeting.

Cheryl-Fletcher Is there an Interview for O-1 Visa?

What are the Chances of O-1 Visa Approval?

What are the Chances of O-1 Visa Approval? Overview

What are the chances of O-1 visa approval? This article is about answering this mind-boggling question. The O-1 visa, also known as the “extraordinary ability visa,” offers a pathway for individuals with exceptional skills and achievements to work legally in the United States. However, the journey towards O-1 visa approval can be complex and requires a thorough understanding of the requirements and evaluation criteria.

Understanding the Evaluation Criteria

To assess an applicant’s eligibility for the O-1 visa, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates the evidence of extraordinary ability in specific fields. While the criteria may vary depending on the field, some key factors that contribute to O-1 visa approval include:

  1. Extraordinary Ability: O-1 beneficiaries must provide substantial evidence of exceptional skill and achievement in their respective fields. This can be demonstrated through national or international awards, critical acclaim, publications, membership in prestigious organizations, serving as a judge in a competition, or high salary in relation to others in the field.
  2. Expert Opinions: USCIS considers testimonials from experts, authorities, or industry peers attesting to the applicant’s extraordinary ability. These testimonies provide an external validation of the applicant’s expertise and contributions to the field.

3. Specific Field Criteria: Each field has its own requirements for demonstrating extraordinary ability. For example, individuals in the arts may need to provide evidence of significant recognition or achievements in their artistic discipline, while those in sciences may need to showcase groundbreaking research or contributions to their field.

4. Job Offer and Itinerary: O-1 beneficiaries must provide a job offer or an itinerary of planned employment in the United States. This includes details of the project, duration, and the applicant’s critical role in the endeavor.

Factors Influencing Approval Chances

While meeting the eligibility criteria is essential, several factors can influence the chances of O-1 visa approval:

  1. Documentation and Preparation: Thoroughly gathering and organizing the required evidence and supporting documents is crucial. A comprehensive application that meets USCIS standards and addresses all necessary criteria can enhance the chances of approval.
  2. Legal Representation: Seeking guidance from an experienced immigration attorney who specializes in O-1 visas can significantly increase the chances of success. An attorney can provide expertise in navigating the application process, ensuring compliance with USCIS requirements, and strengthening the case.
  3. Field of Expertise: The level of competition and the industry’s demand for extraordinary talent in a specific field can impact approval chances. Fields with higher demand or limited availability of talent may have higher approval rates.
  4. Evidence Quality: The strength and quality of the evidence presented play a crucial role. Compelling, well-documented evidence that highlights the applicant’s achievements, recognition, and contributions to their field can bolster the chances of approval.
  5. No Visa Cap: Unlike other visa categories, like the H-1B, there is no cap on O-1 visas and there is no labor certification requirement. As long as an O-1 beneficiary meets the criteria and all passes security clearance, he or she should be approved.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help?

Reading about “what are the chances of O-1 visa approval” on the internet, is the first step in the application process. The second step is to ensure that you are truly eligible for O-1 visa. An experienced immigration attorney can assist greatly with this evaluation. Hiring an attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes, which delay processing times and may lead to a denial. Attorney, Cheryl Fletcher has been highly successful with O-1 visas and has achieved hundreds of O-1 visa approvals.

If you would like to speak with her, feel free to contact us by phone at 561-507-5772 or use the booking button below to schedule a personal meeting.

Cheryl-Fletcher What are the Chances of O-1 Visa Approval?

What Are the Current O-1 Processing Times?

What are the Current O-1 Processing Times? Overview

“What are the current O-1 processing times?” is an important question that O-1 employers, agents and beneficiaries should consider when deciding whether an O-1 visa is the right choice. Understanding the processing times associated with the O-1 visa is crucial for planning and managing expectations.

General Timeline for O-1 Visa Processing

While individual cases may vary, understanding the general timeline for O-1 visa processing can provide a helpful guideline. The typical steps and estimated processing times are as follows:

  1. Case Preparation: Gathering necessary documentation and evidence can take several weeks or even months, depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of supporting materials.
  2. Regular USCIS Processing: Once the I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and supporting documentation is submitted to USCIS, the processing time can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) workload. Compared to other visas, the wait time for the O-1 visa is relatively short. On average it takes less than 3 months for regular processing.
  3. Premium Processing: For a more certain processing time, USCIS has created a premium processing option. The petitioner may elect this option, using form I-907, at the time of filing the application, or later while the application is pending. The premium processing fee is $2,500, which should be added to the $460, I-129 petition filing fee. USCIS guarantees a response within 15 calendar days from the date the premium processing request is received. USCIS could either: a) issue an approval notice;b) issue a denial notice; c) issue a notice of intent to deny; d) issue a request for evidence; or e) open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation. USCIS may take the same action during regular processing but it would happen much later.
  4. Potential Request For Evidence: If USCIS determines that additional evidence or information is required, it will issue a Request For Evidence (“RFE”). An RFE gives you more time to provide additional evidence. USCIS will likely not be working on you case while an RFE is pending. You can speed up processing by filing a solid application, initially, to avoid receiving an RFE or you can respond to the RFE quickly so that USCIS can resume evaluating your case. Hiring a qualified immigration attorney to prepare and file the application, on your behalf, may help you avoid a RFE or a Notice of Intent to Deny (“NOID)”. When USCIS issues an RFE or a NOID it typically adds a few weeks to the overall processing time.
  5. Consular Processing (if applicable): After USCIS approves the I-129 petition if the O-1 beneficiary is outside the United States, he or she will need to pay a visa application fee and schedule an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. The scheduling and processing timeframes can vary by location. Some U.S. embassies or consulates have short wait times and the next available appoint may only be a few days away.
  6. Change of Status (if applicable): If the O-1 beneficiary is in the United States and is in lawful status (absent extraordinary circumstances), he or she may request a change of status. There are significant backlogs regarding a change of status and it may take a few months or years for USCIS to approve the request. It is important to note that an O-1 beneficiary cannot beginning working in O-1 status until after the change of status application has been approved. It may be faster to travel to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy to gain an O-1 visa stamp.

Factors Influencing O-1 Processing Times

Several factors contribute to the processing times of O-1 visa applications. These can vary depending on the workload of (USCIS) and the complexity of individual cases. Key factors to consider include:

  1. Hiring an Immigration Attorney: A qualified immigration attorney is a valuable resource to speed up the processing of an O-1 visa petition. This is because an attorney will know the legal requirements and the documents that are necessary to prove the case.
  2. USCIS’ Workload: The volume of applications received by the USCIS can impact processing times. High application numbers or other external factors may result in longer processing times. Each year, USCIS receives approximately 21,000, I-129 petitions, in the O-1 category.
  3. Completeness and Accuracy of the Petition: Ensuring that all required documents and evidence are properly prepared and submitted can help prevent delays due to USCIS requests for additional information.
  4. Request for Evidence: In some cases, USCIS may issue an RFE seeking further clarification or evidence to support the O-1 visa application. Responding to an RFE promptly and effectively is crucial to avoid further delays.
  5. Consular Processing: If you are requesting an O-1 visa stamp through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, this requires additional processing time. You may have to prepare for an overseas trip, and encounter flight delays.

Tips for Faster O-1 Visa Processing

To streamline the O-1 visa processing journey, consider the following tips:

  1. Begin Early: Start the application process well in advance to allow ample time for gathering supporting documents and preparing a strong case. The I-129 petition cannot be filed more than one year before the employment start date but should be filed at least 45 days before employment begins.
  2. Engage an Immigration Attorney: Seeking guidance from an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that the application is thorough, accurate, and meets the USCIS requirements.
  3. Premium Processing: If time is of the essence, consider utilizing the USCIS premium processing service to expedite the review.
  4. Stay Organized: Keep all application materials, correspondence, and important documents organized and readily accessible for efficient response to any USCIS requests or inquiries.
  5. Regularly Check USCIS Updates: Stay informed about USCIS processing times and any changes or updates that may affect your application.

What to do While You Wait?

The O-1 visa process an be a “marathon” rather than a “sprint” and even the most patient individual can be weighed down by the process. However, rather than passively waiting for your O-1 visa, you can utilize this time effectively by engaging in various activities that may enhance your skills, expand your network.

Enhance Your Skills: While waiting for your O-1 visa, consider investing your time in enhancing your skills and knowledge. Identify areas of your expertise that could benefit from further development or improvement. Take online courses, attend workshops, or enroll in relevant training programs that will help you sharpen your skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your field. Demonstrating ongoing professional development can only strengthen your O-1 visa application.

Network and Build Connections: Building a strong professional network is crucial for success in any industry. Use the waiting period to expand your network by attending industry events, conferences, and seminars. Engage with professionals in your field, seek mentorship, and establish meaningful connections. Join relevant online communities or professional networking platforms to interact with like-minded individuals and gain insights into your industry.

Volunteer or Freelance: Consider utilizing your skills and expertise by volunteering for projects or freelancing while you wait for your O-1 visa. Volunteering can help you gain valuable experience, build your portfolio, and contribute to the community. It also showcases your dedication and passion for your field, which can be advantageous when presenting your case for the O-1 visa. Engaging in freelance work allows you to continue working on projects, maintain professional relevance, and generate income.

Personal Projects: Consider undertaking personal projects related to your field of expertise. This could involve writing a research paper, creating a portfolio website, developing a mobile app, or working on a personal blog. These projects not only showcase your skills and passion but also demonstrate your commitment to advancing your career. Personal projects can serve as tangible evidence of your extraordinary abilities, reinforcing your O-1 visa application.

Stay Informed: Stay updated with the latest news and developments in your industry. Follow industry-specific publications, subscribe to relevant newsletters, and join professional forums. Keeping yourself informed about emerging trends, technological advancements, and industry challenges will help you stay ahead of the curve. Demonstrating a deep understanding of your field during your O-1 visa application process can contribute positively to your case.

Visit Family and Friends: The O-1 visa may be granted for up to three years. Depending of the employment agreement between you and your employer, you could be away from your home country for a few years. Although an O-1 visa allows for international travel and multiple trips to the U.S. you may not have much vacation time when you begin working in the U.S. Take the time to visit family and friends and enjoy some of life’s finer moments, while you wait.

How an Immigration Attorney can Help?

If USCIS issued a Request for Evidence, a denial notice or opens a fraud/misrepresentation action, the services of an attorney are critical at this point. A qualified immigration attorney can make the difference in whether your case is approved or denied.

My name is Cheryl Fletcher and I have been practicing immigration law since 2015. We have helped hundreds of applicants in the O-1 visa process get approved for an O-1 visa. If you would like to speak with me for 30-minutes regarding your case, please give us a call at 561-507-5772 or use the button below to book a consultation.

Reach out to us. You’d be glad you did.

Cheryl-Fletcher What Are the Current O-1 Processing Times?

How long can I stay in the US with an O-1 visa?

How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. on an O-1 Visa?

How long can I stay in the U.S. on an O-1 Visa? is a question that is popular among our potential clients. The best answer is,”it depends.” An O-1 visa is for persons of “extraordinary ability” in business, science, education, the arts or athletics and or for those who have “extraordinary achievement” in motion picture and or the television industry. Initially, this visa can be granted for a maximum of three years and extended for one-year at a time, as long as the O-1 beneficiary meets certain requirements.

Initial Visa Approval

Initially, the visa may be granted for up to three years. This is typical for longer term employment positions. For shorter work opportunities, it is likely that the visa could be granted for less time. The specific duration is determined by the reviewing officer at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is based on the circumstances presented in the visa application.

Factors Influencing the Initial Duration

Project Duration: For O-1 visa applicants working on specific projects or events with a defined start and end date, the initial visa duration may align with the project timeline. The USCIS generally aims to grant a visa that covers the entirety of the project or event.

Evidence of Employment: The employment contract or offer letter provided by the U.S.-based employer plays a crucial role in determining the initial visa duration. If the employment contract specifies a certain period, the reviewing officer may consider that timeframe when granting the visa.

Supporting Documentation: The strength of the evidence presented in the visa application is instrumental in influencing the initial duration. The documentation should demonstrate the applicant’s extraordinary abilities and achievements in their field. This may include awards, publications, media coverage, memberships in professional organizations, and testimonial letters from experts.

USCIS Discretion: The USCIS has the discretion to grant an O-1 visa for a duration they deem appropriate. They consider the individual’s accomplishments, the nature of the work, and other relevant factors. While three years is a common initial duration, the USCIS may grant a shorter period if they deem it necessary.

O-1 Visa Renewal Tips

There is no limit on the amount of times that an O-1 beneficiary can renew a visa. There are certain steps that you can take to minimize disruptions in your employment and to smooth the process for O-1 visa renewal.

Early Preparation: It is crucial to initiate the visa renewal process well in advance to avoid any gaps in employment authorization. Ideally, you should begin the process six months before the expiration of your current O-1 visa.

Collecting Documentation: Gather all the necessary documentation to support your visa renewal application. This may include evidence of your continued extraordinary ability, such as awards, publications, media coverage, contracts, and testimonial letters from experts in your field.

Employer’s Role: Your U.S.-based employer plays a crucial role in the visa renewal process. They will need to submit a new Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf. This petition should include all the required supporting documents.

Extending Stay or Changing Employers: If you wish to extend your stay with the same employer, the new petition should state the requested period of extension. In case you intend to work for a new employer, they must file a new Form I-129 with the USCIS to transfer your visa sponsorship.

Premium Processing: Consider utilizing the USCIS premium processing service, which expedites the processing time of your visa renewal application. By paying an additional fee, you can receive a decision within 15 calendar days. This service can be particularly beneficial if your current visa is about to expire.

Consular Processing: If you are outside the United States during the visa renewal process, you will need to visit a U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new visa stamp. Schedule an appointment, provide the required documentation, and attend an interview to receive your renewed visa.

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How an Immigration Attorney Can Help?

My name is Cheryl Fletcher and I have been practicing immigration law since 2015. I have helped hundreds of O-1 applicants receive the maximum duration for their visa. If you would like similar representation, please feel fee to book a personal meeting with me by calling 561-507-5772 or using the booking button below.

Cheryl-Fletcher How long can I stay in the US with an O-1 visa?

How Much Does it Cost to Sponsor an O-1 Visa?

How Much Does it Cost to Sponsor an O-1 Visa?- Overview

How much does it cost to sponsor an O-1 visa? is the second most important question that people ask themselves when they start their research. The most important question is about eligibility and qualification. The costs for an O-1 visa are not due all at once and are paid to different U.S. government agencies.

Employer Petition and Filing Fees

To begin the petition process, the U.S. employer or U.S. agent must first identify a candidate who meets the definition of “extraordinary ability.” An O-1 beneficiary who has risen to the very top of his or field in the sciences, education, business, the arts, athletics, motion picture/TV production is eligible for an O-1 visa. Once the terms of employment are agreed upon between the employer or U.S. agent and the O-1 beneficiary, the employer may begin the petition process.

Regular Processing: The filing fee for the I-129 Petition for Nonimmgrant Worker is $460. This is paid at the time of filing the petition. It may be paid with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check or by credit card using form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. The $460 fee covers regular processing. The wait time for regular processing for an O-1 visa is relatively short, compared to other visa categories. It takes about two months, according to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) current processing times. This fee is paid by the employer.

Premium Processing: Current processing time changes each month according to the volume of cases that USCIS receives. Sometimes, it may take longer than two months to receive a decision. This can be detrimental to your business if you are trying to fill a vacancy quickly. The government offers “premium processing” to cut the wait time. In addition to the $460 filing fee, if you pay for “premium processing” USCIS promises to make a decision on your application within 15 calendar days. If USCIS cannot process your application within 15 days, it will refund the premium processing fee and process your application regularly. The premium processing fee for a O-1 petition is $2,500. You may request premium processing at the time of filing the I-129 petition or later, while the application is pending. You submit your request by using form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. This fee may be paid by the employer or the O-1 beneficiary.

Visa Application Fee: If USCIS approves the O-1 petition, the O-1 beneficiary is eligible to apply for change of status if he or she is in the U.S. or consular processing if he or she is abroad. For a change of status, the O-1 beneficiary will not incur a visa application fee. If the O-1 beneficiary is outside the U.S. he or she must complete a DS-160 visa application, online and pay $190. The fee is paid to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the O-1 beneficiary intends to apply for a visa. This fee may be paid by the employer or the O-1 beneficiary.

Attorney’s Fees: A qualified immigration attorney may improve your chances of getting approved for an O-1 visa. Attorney’s fees start at $3,500 for this service. This includes providing legal advice, filing the petition, responding to any requests for evidence, filing the visa application, preparing the O-1 beneficiary for the interview and providing case updates.

How a Qualified Immigration Attorney Can Help

After reading this article you should have gained a basic understanding of the fees involved in applying for a O-1 visa. This is good information but it is not legal advice. Immigration law is highly complex and a qualified immigration attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes. Attorney Fletcher has helped hundreds of O-1 beneficiaries get approved for a O-1 visa.

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Attorney, Cheryl Fletcher

Does O-1 Visa Need Sponsorship?

Does O-1 Visa Need Sponsorship?: Overview

Does O-1 visa need sponsorship? This is one of the most are frequently asked questions by employers, agents, entrepreneurs, professionals and artists who are considering whether an O-1 visa is the right choice. Unlike other visa categories where a self-petition is possible, an O-1 visa requires sponsorship from a U.S. employer or a U.S. agent. A U.S. agent can file petitions for American or foreign employers or O-1 beneficiaries, who are self-employed.

O-1 Visa Sponsorship Requirements- Employer

An employer with a registered business in the U.S. can sponsor an O-1 beneficiary for a visa. The business may be registered as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or a limited liability company, in any of the fifty states. The business must have a valid employer identification number. There is no requirement on how long a business should exist in order to be able to sponsor an O-1 beneficiary. However, the business should have strong financials to be able to maintain its operations and pay the O-1 beneficiary. Typically, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), does not require bank statements and tax returns for the business, however if it is questionable whether the business is legitimate or can afford to pay the O-1 beneficiary, USCIS may request these documents.

When filing the I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, the employer should include evidence of the compensation arrangement between the business and the O-1 beneficiary. This is usually a written contract. However, if there is no written contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement, under which the O-1 beneficiary will be employed, may be sufficient.

The employer should also include an explanation of the nature of event or activities, the beginning and ending dates and a copy of the itinerary. Since the O-1 visa covers a wide range of professionals, this explanation will vary. For example, a sports coach of “extraordinary ability” who is seeking to enter the U.S. to work at a local gym may have a 3-year employment contract. In comparison, a musician who is entering the U.S. on a tour, may be stopping in multiple cities and may have an itinerary stating the dates he or she will be in each city.

O-1 Visa Sponsorship Requirements- Agent

A U.S. agent who would like to petition for an O-1 beneficiary must be “in the business” of being an agent. The agent cannot just be another employer for which the O-1 beneficiary is performing. The agent can be the O-1 beneficiary’s employer or may be filing the petition on behalf of a foreign or U.S. employer. If the agent is the actual employer, to prove that he or she is “in the business” of being an agent, he or she should submit evidence such as the business registration certificate, agency representation contracts and fee arrangements.

If the agent is acting on behalf of an employer, a power of attorney, or affidavits from other employers regarding the agent’s representation of the employers and the beneficiary can serve as evidence that the agent is “in the business” and is authorized to file the I-129 petition on behalf of the employer.

If the O-1 beneficiary intends to work for multiple employers, an agent can file this petition only if: (1) the supporting documentation includes a complete itinerary of the events; (2) the itinerary specifies the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of performance venues; the contracts between each employer and the beneficiary; and (4) the agent includes documentation, explaining the terms and conditions of the employment .

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help

Since 2015, Attorney Cheryl Fletcher, has been assisting employers, agents, and O-1 beneficiaries with their American dreams. After reading this article, you should have gained a basic understanding of the sponsorship requirements for an O-1 visa. However, immigration law is complex and a qualified immigration attorney can greatly improve your chances of qualifying for this visa.

If you have questions about O-1 visa eligibility and the process in general, please book a consultation online, contact us by phone: 561-507-5772, or send us a email at [email protected]. We’d be glad to assist.

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Attorney, Cheryl Fletcher

Best Way to Hire Employees? Attract O-1 Visa Workers

Best Way to Hire Employees: Overview

The best way to hire employees is one of the top concerns for human resource managers, who must attract and retain talented employees. Whether you run a small business or a fortune 500 company, the concern is the same. Focusing only on workers, located in the United States is not the best way to hire employees; you must focus on the global workforce.

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Attracting and Retaining Talented Employees

In 1990, the U.S. Congress created a special category of visas to attract the top 1% of talented employees, in the world, enter the United States and fill positions. This special visa is called the O-1 visa and is touted as the “genius visa.” These are highly sought after individuals, who have risen to the very top of their field in business, science, education, athletics, the arts, motion picture or television. You know they are at the top because they must have won a prestigious international or national award. Each year over 10,000 visas are issued to this talented group, from various countries, ethnicities and cultures. If you would like to attract and retain these O-1 employees, you should target them in the hiring process.

When posting a job online on websites such as Indeed, include the term “visa sponsorship available” in the advertisement. This way O-1 visa workers know that you welcome their application.

Visa Sponsorship for O-1 Visa Workers

O-1 Visa Requirements: How to Qualify?

O-1 Visa Requirements: Overview

O-1 visa requirements are fairly straightforward but can be difficult to prove without a thorough understanding of this visa category. There are two categories of O-1 visas: O-1A and O-1B. The O-1A is for persons of “extraordinary ability” in business, science, education, or athletics, while the O-1B is for those who have “extraordinary ability” in the arts or “extraordinary achievement” in motion picture and or the television industry. An O-1 visa may be granted for an employment position, a single event or a series of events. Examples of eligible events include, a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture series, tour, exhibit, business project, an academic year, or engagement. Both the O-1A and O-1B visa sub-categories allow visas for support staff and family. The O-2 visa is for accompanying staff, which is integral to the O-1 visa holders’ performance, while the O-3 visa is for dependent spouse and children.

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“Extraordinary Ability” Visa: What does this mean?

“Extraordinary ability” in terms of a O-1 visa, means that the beneficiary is “one of the very small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” This applies to the field of science, education, business, or athletics. Executives, scientists, athletes, physicians, entrepreneurs, and former athletes who have transitioned to coaching are examples of occupations that may be eligible for an O-1A visa. To prove O-1A eligibility, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) requires either a major internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, Olympic medal or Laureus World Sports Award. If the beneficiary does not have any of these awards or awards of similar prestige he or she must have received a less-known nationally or internationally recognized award and must have continuously contributed to his or her field. The petitioner must submit evidence from at least two of the categories below, to prove “contribution to the field:”

 

1. Proof of membership in an exclusive organization in your field;

2. Participation on a panel or individually as a judge in your field;

3. Mentions of your published material in trade publications;

4. Written scholarly articles in your field in professional journals or other major media;

5. Evidence that you command a high salary; and

6. Evidence that you have held critical positions for esteemed organizations in your field.

“Extraordinary ability” for an O-1B visa in the arts means “distinction.” Distinction is “a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.” Examples of occupations that may qualify include actors, musicians, fashion designers, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians, and animal trainers. For an O-1B visa in motion picture or TV production, the applicant must have a “demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement.” Film producers and directors are two examples of occupations in this field. There may be an overlap between the arts and motion picture/TV production and some occupations may be suitable for both fields. For an O-1B visa in the arts, motion picture or TV production, the applicant must either be nominated for or be the recipient of a significant international or national award or prize, such as the Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Academy Award, Emmy or Director’s Guild Award OR have at least three of the following:

1. Lead in a production of distinguished reputation;

2. Critical reviews in major newspapers or trade journals;

3. Lead for an organization that has a distinguished reputation;

4. Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes;

5. Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies or other experts in the field; or

6. Has or will command a high salary.

All “O” categories need an advisory opinion from a consultative organization, such as a peer group, labor organization, and or management organization. The consultation letter should describe the O-1A or O-1B’s achievements. If there is no appropriate union, the consultation may be waived.

O-1 Visa Employer Requirements

O-1 visa employer requirements are stated in the Immigration and Nationality Act and must be met for an O-1 petition to be approved. An O-1 applicant cannot petition for himself or herself. A U.S employer or U.S. agent, must file the I-129 petition for an O-1 visa. U.S. agents file applications on behalf of American and foreign employers and O-1 beneficiaries who are self-employed.

The employer must be a legal entity with a valid employer identification number. A petitioner-agent must be “in the business” of being an agent. Evidence of this includes, fee arrangements, affidavits from other employers and beneficiaries who were represented by the agent, and agency contracts.

As evidence, the employer should submit written contracts between the petitioner and the beneficiary or, if there is no written contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed. The employer should also include an explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates and a copy of any itinerary.

The employer cannot file more than one year before work starts but should file at a minimum 45 days before employment. An O-1 beneficiary may work at multiple locations and with multiple employers. An O-1 visa is granted for three years or less and O-1 extensions are granted in 1-year increments for the same event. The beneficiary may be admitted 10 days before and 10 days after the validity of the visa but cannot work during this time. There is no limit on the number of years that person may spend in O-1 status.

O-1-Visa-Requirements-Board-Meeting-1024x684 O-1 Visa Requirements: How to Qualify?

O-1 Visa Dual Intent and Change of Status

An O-1 visa beneficiary may have dual intent. He or she is not required to maintain a foreign home residence, while in the U.S. An O-1 beneficiary who is in the U.S. in a different visa category may submit a change of status or can undergo consular processing, once the I-129 petition is approved. Dual intent allows the O-1 beneficiary to complete a green card process while in O-1 status. If the green card petition is denied, however, the O-1 beneficiary will have to leave the United States at the conclusion or termination of O-1 status.

O-1 Visa to Green Card: EB-1 and EB-2 Options

O-1 visa to green card is the goal of many O-1 beneficiaries. There are three types of immigrant visas that are suitable for this purpose. The EB-1A green card is reserved for applicants of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. It does not require labor certification or evidence of an offer of employment. The criteria is similar to that of the O-1A but qualification is not automatic. Some O-1 to EB-1A and some petitions are denied, so it is best to consult an experienced immigration attorney to minimize the risk of this happening.

Adjustment-of-Status-Green-Card-1-1024x683 O-1 Visa Requirements: How to Qualify?

The EB-1B green card is reserved for outstanding researchers and professors. Like the EB-1A, there is no labor certification requirement but an offer of employment is required. The EB-1B beneficiary must be recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field and have three (3) years experience in teaching or research, in the specific academic area. The beneficiary must be entering the U.S. for a tenured teaching position or tenure track at a university or institution of higher education, a tertiary level research position, or a comparable research position with a private employer. If the category is current, the petitioner may file an adjustment of status application along with the I-140 petition.

The EB-2 national interest waiver green card suits professionals with an advanced degree or who has exceptional ability, in the sciences, arts or business. and will substantially benefit the U.S. economy, culture or educational interests. The “art” category includes athletes and entertainers. A masters degree or higher is an advanced degree, while a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressive experience in the field is the education and work experience equivalent. The applicant must have a job offer. Labor certification is not required.

O-2 Visa Requirements/ Eligibility: Support Staff

O-2 visa requirements have some similarities with the O-1. Both visas require a consultation letter from the appropriate organization that describe the beneficiary’s skill and experience. The O-2 visa is for persons who would like to accompany or assist an O-1 artist or athlete. There is no O-2 visa for accompanying staff in the fields of business, education, or science. The O-2 beneficiary should possess skills and essentiality to the O-1 beneficiary and must have prior experience working with the O-1. For motion picture or television productions, there must be a pre-existing, longstanding relationship.

An O-2 must be integral to the actual performance, has critical skills that cannot be performed by other individuals and has a foreign residence that he or she does not plan to abandon. The O-2, applicant cannot have dual intent. For O-2’s accompanying O-1s in motion picture and television, an applicant should provide evidence that significant work production has taken place outside the US and that the O-2’s participation is critical to the success of the production.

O-2’s work status and work authorization may be granted for the full duration of the O-1’s status.

O-3 Visa Requirement: Spouse and Unmarried Children

O-3 visas are for minor unmarried children, under 21 years old and the spouse of a O-1 beneficiary. They may accompany the O-1 beneficiary or follow to join, within 1-year of the O-1 obtaining his or her visa. An O-3 dependent may not accept employment in the United States but may attend school.

O-1 Visa Costs: Attorney’s Fees and Costs

O-1 visa costs can be divided into the following categories: I-129 petition fees, visa fees and attorney’s fees. The I-129 petition costs $460, with regular processing. It takes approximately three (3) months to process but this time can be shortened to 15 days if the petitioner requests premium processing and pays an additional $2,500. If the petition is approved, the applicant pays a $160 visa application fee to the Department of State. Attorney’s fees, for an experienced immigration attorney to assist with the process, begin at $3,500.

Who Wrote this Article?

My name is Cheryl Fletcher. I am a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Fletcher Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and United States citizenship.

After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of the O-1 visa requirements, the basics of qualifying for an O-1 visa and how long the process should take. If you would like a personal analysis of your situation, please feel free to contact us at 561-507-5772 or send us an email at: [email protected].

IMG_1597 O-1 Visa Requirements: How to Qualify?

O-1 Visas for Athletes- See if You Qualify

O-1 Visas for Athletes- General Overviewsports-210661_640-150x150 O-1 Visas for Athletes- See if You Qualify

O-1  visas are temporary work visas that allow foreign athletes who have “extraordinary ability in athletics” to enter the United States (U.S.) to train, attend seminars, participate in sponsorship activations, make promotional appearances, and engage in other activities that are associated with being an athlete. Extraordinary ability means that the athlete is among a small percentage of people who have arisen to the very top of the sport. The athlete can have dual intent, meaning that the athlete can plan on staying in the U.S. temporarily and returning home after the period of authorized stay or the athlete can plan on remaining in the U.S. permanently. The athlete is not required to have foreign-residence to be eligible for this type of visa.

How to Prove Extraordinary Ability?

There are two options in this regard:

Option A

The athlete must either have sustained national or international acclaim by receipt of a major internationally recognized award. For example, the athlete has an established sports career in which he or she won multiple Olympic medals.

Option B

The athlete must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Received nationally or internationally recognized awards;
  • Be a member of an organization that requires outstanding achievement;
  • Featured by a third-party who published material about the athlete in professional or major trade publications;
  • Participated on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the sport;
  • Made major scientific, scholarly or business-related contributions to the sport;
  • Written scholarly articles in the sport, in professional journals, or other major media;
  • Have evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity at an organization with a distinguished reputation; or
  • Commands a higher salary in relation to others in the field.

Sponsorship Requirements

O-1s cannot petition for themselves. The athlete must use  either a U.S. agent or a U.S. employer. The process begins by filing form I-129 Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The sponsor may file up to one year before the work begins but should file at a minimum of 45 days before employment. If the athlete is terminated, the agent or employer is responsible for the athlete’s transportation costs to return home.

The petition is automatically revoked if the employer or sponsor goes out of business, files a written withdrawal, or notifies USCIS that the athlete is no longer employed. All other circumstances require notice before revocation.

O-1 Visas for Athletes- Validity Period

Initially, the O-1 visa may be issued for up to three years. The athlete may be admitted 10 days before and stay 10 days after the validity period but cannot work during this time. Extensions may be granted in one-year increments. The athlete may travel outside the U.S., while the  extension is pending and request that the approval be sent to the consulate abroad.

O-2 Visas for Support Staff

Support personnel that is integral to the athletes’ performance may be eligible for an O-2 visa. The O-2 applicant has to have critical skills and experience with the athlete, which cannot be performed by anyone else. The O-2 must have non-immigrant intent and must maintain a foreign residence that he or she has no intention of abandoning.

O-3 Visas for Spouses and Children

Spouses and children of the O1 athlete may qualify for O-3 visas. The O-3 visa holder is allowed to reside in the U.S., as well as engage in full-time study but cannot seek employment. The O-3 visa is valid for up to 3 years.

Sports Visa Attorney

Cheryl Fletcher is a sports immigration attorney who assists foreign athletes with their visa applications. If you meet the O visa requirements, she will complete the application form and put together a comprehensive application package to improve your chances of getting the visa.  Please call  561-507-5772, email: [email protected], or contact us via or contact form.

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