O-Visa

O-visa is granted to individuals “who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry, and whose achievements has  been recognized in the field through extensive documentation….” 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(o)(1)(i).  The petition needs a sponsor who is an employer or an agent/ employer in the case of motion picture, television industry etc. The petitioner also needs to provide written/ oral contract with the beneficiary. There is no cap on the number of petitions for each year, and can be applied round the year. O-visa is primarily classified into two (2) categories based on evidentiary requirements set-forth in Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). They are O-1A and O-1B.

O-1A Visa

O-1A visa is granted to individuals who has extraordinary ability in sciences, education, business, or athletics.

Evidentiary Criteria: The petitioner needs to provide extensive documentation showing that the prospective beneficiary received major national or internationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence in the field of endeavor. Example for international recognized prize include Noble prize or any highly prestigious national prize in another country.

Another alternative option to prove extraordinary ability is satisfying at-least three (3) of six (6) below criteria:

1. Documentation of the beneficiary’s membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members.

2. Evidence of the beneficiary’s original scholarly work or, contributions of major significance to the field.

3. Evidence of the beneficiary’s high salary within the field or future ability to command such salary.

4. Evidence that the beneficiary participated individually on a panel that judges the work of others in the field.

5. Evidence of the beneficiary’s prior employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation. 

6. Published material relating to the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation.

Comparable evidence exception: Sometimes, due to the unique nature of the field of endeavor, the petitioner may submit “comparable evidence,” when some of the above specified list is not relevant for evidence purposes. The petitioner “must” only show that a particular criterion listed above does not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation before a petitioner may offer comparable evidence with regard to that criterion.

Comparable evidence will not be considered if the evidence is submitted in lieu of a particular criterion that is readily applicable to the beneficiary’s occupation simply because the beneficiary cannot satisfy that criterion.

O-1B Visa

O-1 B visa is granted to individuals who has extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in television industry or motion picture.

Evidentiary Criteria:

Arts: In this field the criteria is “distinction.” Distinction means “a high level of achievement in the field of arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(o)(3)(ii).

Television industry or motion picture: In this field beneficiary must demonstrate “extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.” United States v. Caco, (M.D. Fla., 2013).

The petitioner need to prove with evidence that the beneficiary has received or been nominated for significant national or international awards or prizes in the field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award.

Another alternative option to prove extraordinary criteria is satisfying at-least three (3) of six (6) below criteria: 

1. Evidence that the beneficiary has performed and will perform as a lead or starring participant in productions or
events that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases,
publications contracts, or endorsements;

2. Evidence that the beneficiary has achieved national or international recognition for achievements in the field as
evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;

3. Evidence that the beneficiary has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, and other occupational achievements reported in publications;

4. Evidence that the beneficiary has received significant recognition from organizations, critics, government
agencies, or other recognized experts;

5. Evidence that the beneficiary commands or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services in relation to others in the field; or

6. Evidence that the beneficiary has performed and will perform in a lead or starring role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation.

Comparable evidence exception for Arts field:

Sometimes, due to the unique nature of the arts field of endeavor, the petitioner may submit “comparable evidence,” when some of the above specified list is not relevant for evidence purposes. The petitioner “must” only show that a particular criterion listed above does not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation before a petitioner may offer comparable evidence with regard to that criterion.

Comparable evidence will not be considered if the evidence is submitted in lieu of a particular criterion that is readily applicable to the beneficiary’s occupation simply because the beneficiary cannot satisfy that criterion.

 

Consultation letter from a peer group or labor and/or management organization

The petitioner need to get a consultation letter from a peer group of the field of endeavor of the petitioner or a person with expertise (with the need to have really good credentials) in the field. Letter with good authenticating information such as watermark, logo, trademark, or any other distinctive mark to prove it’s significance and lowers chance of Request For Evidence (RFE). For motion picture and/ or television industry, separate consultation letter from relevant labor and/or management is required.

Issues with O-1A visa petition

O-1 A Visa is granted to individuals with the level of expertise  indicating the person is one of small percentage who has risen to the top of the field. This visa is not a last-shot to stay in the United States for those on verge of losing their current visa status. Participation in some non-prominent panels will not satisfy the evidentiary criteria of judging a peer group. Cursory mention of you in some group work on a publication or newspaper will not help your case. USCIS will look at both “quantitative” and “qualitative” aspects of your evidence before reaching a decision.

Issues with O-1B visa petition

O-1 B Visa is granted to individuals who are recognized as being prominent in his or her field of endeavor. Field of arts include lot of every day professional works such as coaches, set designers, sound designers, culinary arts, visual arts, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians etc. It is easy to confuse who look from the outside such as a USCIS case officer, that it is a every day job and any one with proper training can do it. It is the job of petitioner to provide “ample” evidence about the beneficiary to make your case.