‎O Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

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The O-1 visa is very famous worldwide. In its application, it is necessary to prove the individual`s capacity to obtain the O-1 visa. We works with all types of visas, including the O-1. With a duration of three years, the visa is available to people who have risen to the top of their field of expertise in the arts, athletics, business, education, or science with a sponsor or sponsor.

Individuals applying for this visa must demonstrate sustained national or international recognition through “distinction”. An individual must demonstrate this status through extensive documentation of the individual`s achievements and recognition in the field. This category is also available to individuals in the television and film industries.

The O-1 visa is the closest the US immigration system has to a merit-based visa option, meaning that if the individual “deserves it” due to their great track record, they get the visa. There are other types of visas such as the H-1B which are intended to focus on specific duties and salaries and an applicant`s educational background, but the O-1 directly focuses on an individual`s proven ability.

Although it is not an automatic transition, the O-1 visa can actually lead the beneficiary to obtain their EB-1 visa. Therefore, an O-1 visa is a great way to get to the EB-1, if desired. The difference between them is that the EB-1 visa guarantees a permanent Green Card.

Like all visa types, the O-1 has its advantages and disadvantages. First, the O-1 visa holder can legally work in the US only for the visa sponsor, but in the event of a change of employment, it is necessary to reapply for the visa. Reapplying for the visa is not a problem as the O-1 visa is quick. An O-1 visa holder and his or her family may travel into and out of the US or remain on an ongoing basis as long as the visa status is valid. A spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany the visa holder, but they cannot accept employment in the United States.

Lastly, it seems to be an unfortunate reality that many people cannot find themselves in a position to apply for the O-1. This doubt prevents qualified candidates from giving the O-1 the chance it deserves. At no point do I want to say that getting the O-1 visa is an easy thing to do, but I believe it is very little used in the US immigration system, as the country tries to attract the best and brightest from around the world. .

In order to attract foreign talent to live and work in the country, the United States offers a special visa category for “individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement”. One of them is the Visa O, which can be issued by recognized professionals in the fields of science, arts, education, business and athletics or who have extraordinary achievements in television and film production.

This category, by the way, is divided into some sub-types that need to be detailed. The O-1 Visa, for example, is issued only to professionals in the aforementioned areas who prove national or international recognition, in addition to the existence of a local “sponsor” (company or agent). In other words, it is not enough just to prove fame, it is also necessary to show that you already have a reference, work or job guaranteed in the destination country.

If the holder of the O-1 Visa needs other professionals with essential skills to perform the function, they can issue an O-2 Visa to travel together and work with him in the United States. The family (spouse and children under the age of 21) can also accompany the special skills visa applicant issuing an O-3 Visa. However, it is worth mentioning that dependents are not allowed to work in the country, although they can attend school or college.

New directions

More people now are looking for immigration opportunities, especially professionals linked to the areas of management, engineering, business and communication.

We have seen many worldwide professionals who choose to migrate to the US anchored in this visa of extraordinary abilities, taking advantage of their professional path, intellectual notoriety and image.

In addition,  by this means seek professional help to gather the necessary documentation for the application is critical for success. No everyone is concerned with saving material or keeping themselves in evidence within their area of ??expertise. But this is essential for a professional who wants to expand his career outside their countries, whether in the United States or elsewhere.

Residence visas for extraordinary skills and talents take into account very demanding criteria and professionals must have a very high national or international relevance for some subdivisions within their areas of expertise. Applicants must present proof and evidence of extraordinary abilities in at least three of the ten criteria defined by the US Department of Immigration.

It is an expensive process, as it requires the payment of immigration fees, attorney fees and other professionals` fees. Green Card aspirants in this way also end up spending a large volume of translations and often have to invest in career management, image and digital communication.


Although the Trump administration has announced that the immigration plan to be approved in Congress will give priority to highly qualified professionals with extraordinary abilities, this does not mean that the entry of these professionals is easy or guaranteed.

Processes are often extensive. In addition to the argumentative letter, all evidence in general needs to be documented and translated. The final volume can be over 300 pages.

In the definitions issued by the United States Immigration Service, to obtain the Extraordinary Skills Visa, an applicant "must demonstrate extraordinary skills in the sciences, arts, education, business or sports through sustained national or international acclaim." The rules also cite evidence such as Pulitzer, Nobel, Oscar or Olympic medals.

How to get an o-1 visa?

The first step to start applying for the O-1 Visa is to gather the documents that prove the above-average skill of the professional. The applicant must also have the employment contract with the agent or company that is hiring him/her in the United States.

The O-1 Visa is intended for people who work in the field of arts, athletics, business, education or science. However, to apply for this type of visa, it is necessary to prove the applicant`s extraordinary abilities in his/her area of ??expertise.

The expression “extraordinary skill” means that the professional must have an experience that indicates that he has reached the peak of success in the field in which he works. All those applying for the O-1 Visa must demonstrate their national or international recognition through evidence and extensive documentation.

O-1 Visa applicants who intend to legally work and pursue a career in the United States must also be sponsored by a company or agent in the United States. The length of stay in the US allowed under the O-1 Visa is for an initial period of three years. This term may be extended for periods of one year or until the project developed by the professional is completed.

O-2 Visa

Persons who need to enter the United States for the purpose of helping an O-1 Visa applicant who is active in the arts, film, television, or athletics can apply for an O-2 Visa. However, they must prove that they are part of the professional performance of the O-1 Visa holder.

They must have skills considered essential and that cannot be performed by other professionals. Another requirement is that the O-2 Visa applicant must have a residence in their home country and that they have no intention of leaving.

O-3 Visa

Children under the age of 21 or spouses who wish to accompany or live with the O-1 Visa holder during their stay in the US must apply for the O-3 Dependent Visa. For those who do not intend to live in the country, but wish to visit the O-1 Visa holder while on vacation, for example, they can use the B-2 Visa. Or even apply for the Visa Waiver Program if they qualify.

If the spouse or children of the O-1 Visa holder want to study in the US, they will be allowed to use the O-3 Visa. However, if they are qualified, they can apply for an F-1 Visa. A person holding an O-3 Visa cannot work in the country on a dependent visa, and must apply for the appropriate type of work visa if he/she intends to do so.

O-1A Visa Requirements

(Extraordinary skills in education, science, athletics or business)

The O-1A Visa is intended for those who can demonstrate extraordinary abilities in the fields of education, science, athletics or business. Applicants for this type of visa must provide proof that they have received national or international recognition.

Whether through an internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, for example. Or prove that you meet at least three of these eight requirements:

The Person must participate in associations that require extraordinary performance from their members, according to the assessment of recognized national or international experts;

Materials made about the applicant in professional publications or in major media outlets;

Scientific, academic or business contributions of great importance;

Receiving awards for excellence or that are recognized nationally or internationally;

Have written academic articles published in professional journals or some other major media;

A high salary or remuneration for services rendered, evidenced by contracts or other reliable forms;

Who has participation as a judge of the work of other professionals in the same area or in another branch of similar specialization;

Employment in an essential skill in organizations that have a renowned reputation.

O-1B Visa Requirements

(Extraordinary skill in the arts, film and television industry)

In the case of the O-1B Visa, extraordinary abilities are understood to be the “distinguished” in the arts. That is, the professional must have a high level of achievement in the arts, which has evidence of skill level and recognition substantially beyond what is normally found.

As with the O-1A Visa, this excellence must be presented through a major achievement, such as the Oscar, Emmy, Director`s Guilt Award, among other recognized awards. Or the applicant must demonstrate at least three of the following requirements:

Perform services as the principal, star in major productions or renowned events, as evidenced by reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications or contracts;

Have national or international recognition, duly substantiated by reviews or materials published by or about the professional in major newspapers, magazines or other publications;

Provide services as the principal or critic to organizations that have a renowned reputation, as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade magazines, publ ications or testimonies;

Have records of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, evidenced by title, industry rating or position, box office receipts, film or television ratings, and other professional achievements that have been reported by trade journals or other publications;

Has received wide recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies or other renowned experts in its field, with statements clearly indicating the author`s authority, experience and knowledge of the beneficiary`s achievements;

A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services performed, compared to other professionals in the field, as demonstrated by contracts or other credible evidence.

Advantages of O-1 Visa

This visa category offers several advantages over other types of US work visas. The main advantage of the O-1 Visa is the opportunity to work legally in the United States. However, the work can only be carried out for the visa sponsor and if there is a change of employment, a new application for the visa must be made. Other advantages of the O-1 Visa are:

The holder of this type of visa and his/her family can enter and leave the US or remain in the US as long as the O-1 Visa status is valid;

There is no annual limit on the number of visas issued by US Immigration;

The O-1 Visa holder may apply for permanent residency in the US. Some holders of this type of visa may apply for a Green Card without the need for a Labor Certification;

O-1 Visas can be issued quickly;

Every time the O Visa holder leaves the country, he must go to the consulate to revalidate his Visa. The process is simple, but it needs scheduling.

The USCIS review criteria for the O-1 Visa are quite peculiar. The relevance that the professional has in his/her area of ??expertise is analyzed, regardless of the activity he/she performs. In other words, the proof of excellence and public recognition of the work is the main issue in the process of obtaining the O-1 Visa. That is why it is important for the applicant to have participated in renowned events abroad and also to have publications in respected international media.

Process to obtain the O-1 Visa

The first step to start applying for the O-1 Visa is to gather the documents that prove the above-average skill of the professional. The applicant must also have the employment contract with the agent or company that is hiring him in the United States.

In addition to professional recommendation letters explaining why your trip to the country is necessary. These letters should provide immigration with objective evidence about the professional`s abilities and what benefits he or she can add to the US.

Another important document is what immigration calls the “Consultation”. It is nothing more than an advisory opinion written by a person or group who has experience in the professional`s area of ??expertise and who can prove their excellence.

For professionals who have extraordinary achievements on television or in films, the document must be from a union and an organization with experience in the O-1 Visa applicant area.

After this step, the sponsor must complete Form I-129 and the Classification supplements to Form I-129. And then send it along with the documents about the professional to be analyzed by USCIS. If the application is approved, the last step of the process is sending the extra documents to the National Visa Center and then scheduling the interview.

The interview must be scheduled at the nearest US Consulate for the O-1 Visa. With the approved visa in hand, the professional has up to three months to travel to the United States, otherwise the O-1 Visa loses its validity.

O-1 Visa process waiting time

The O-1 Visa application typically takes 3-4 months to process, depending on the case and the USCIS Service Center reviewing the application. There is the so-called Premium Processing, in which the applicant pays immigration an additional amount of US$1,410.00 to have a response within 15 days. However, clarifications may be requested by immigration in order to quickly request the analysis.?


Mr. Alessandro Jacob speaking about Brazilian Law on "International Bar Association" conference

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