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ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT O VISA FOR ALIENS OF EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY:

Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Q: What is the O visa? What is required to obtain the O visa?
A: The O visa is a nonimmigrant visa for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts (including television and motion picture), education, business or athletics. The O visa petition is normally filed by the US employer or US agent on behalf of the individual with extraordinary ability. The employer must provide a job offer to the individual and the individual must be able to show that he has extraordinary ability in his or her field and be coming temporarily to the US to work in the claimed area of extraordinary ability.
Q: What are the qualifications the individual will need to be eligible for O visa?
A: The qualifications needed will depend on the area of extraordinary ability claimed. For those in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, the individual must essentially demonstrate that he is in the top of his or her field. This can be achieved if he has received a major or internationally recognized award such as a Novel Prize or Pulitzer award. Most individuals, it is recognized, do not possess such awards but may still qualify if the can show that they have at least three of the following : receipt of lesser national award or international recognized prizes for excellence in the field of endeavor; membership in association in the field of endeavor which requires outstanding achievements for the members; published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about him or her and which relates directly to the alien’s work in the field of endeavor; evidence of the individual’s participation as a judge of the work of others in the individual’s field of endeavor; proof of scientific, scholarly or business related contributions which are of major significance in that field; proof of authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or in other major media; proof of performance in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations; evidence of having commanded a high salary in relation to others in the field of endeavor; and other comparable evidence. For individuals in the arts, the requirement is slightly different in that the individual must show he has acquired ‘distinction’ in his field of endeavor meaning that he has achieved a very high degree of skill to the extent that he is seen or regarded as prominent or well known in his field of arts. For individuals in motion picture or television industry, the individual must show a very high level or accomplishment evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the individual is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the industry. As such, separate and slightly distinct criteria exists for these two separate categories of individuals.
Q; How long is the O visa approved for?
A: The period for which the visa is granted is up to the date requested by the petitioner organization but not to exceed a period of three years. If the beneficiary wishes to continue in that status beyond the period requested, extensions may be granted in increments of one year.
Q: I understand that being in J-1 status and if I cannot satisfy the 2-year home residence requirement I can still apply and be eligible for O visa in the meantime?
A: You may apply to obtain the O visa without completing the J-1 visa two-year home residence requirement. However, you cannot change your status in the US but must obtain the O visa at the US consulate once the O visa petition has been approved.
Q: What kind of documentation is needed for the O visa?
A: Generally, an advisory opinion from an appropriate organization such as a labor organization, management organization or peer group which states that the individual qualifies as an alien of extraordinary ability is required and whether the individual’s abilities and skills are needed for the work is required. In addition to that, include recommendations letters from experts in the field attesting to the individuals abilities and all supporting documentation evidencing that the individual possesses the required criteria for extraordinary ability.
Q: What kind of visa does the spouse and minor children of the O visa holder obtain?
A: They can obtain the O-3 visa.
Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.
My Bio
Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration Lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at srichardslaw@aol.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.


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