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