O Visas

OVERVIEW

A citizen of a foreign country, who wishes to enter the United States, generally must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel.

DEFINITION

The O-1 visa classification provides for the admission into the United States of persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, or extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production. O-1 status holders are also allowed to have dual intent.

Persons seeking entry solely to accompany and assist the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 status-holder are granted O-2 status.

Those seeking an O-2 visa must be an integral part of the performance and have a foreign residence with no intent to abandon it.

Spouses and children of persons with O-1 or O-2 status are granted O-3 status, provided they are accompanying or following to join the principal nonimmigrant.

ELIGIBILITY

This O-1 visa category is reserved for those individuals who have risen to the very top of their fields of endeavor and can provide provide documentary evidence to substantiate this claim. To qualify for O-1 visa status, an individual in the sciences, education, business or athletics must demonstrate national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing evidence of:

  1. the receipt of a major, internationally recognized award, OR
  2. at least three of the following:

    • receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • membership in an association in the field which requires outstanding achievements of its members;
    • published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the individual concerning his/her work in the field. (This documentation must include a copy of the article showing the title, date and author. If the article is not in English, a translation must be provided);
    • evidence of participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others. (This can include participation as a panel of experts for a Ph.D. defense and/or review of articles and books prior to publication.);
    • scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field. (This documentation should take the form of letters from peers who are considered to be experts in the field attesting to the individuals major contributions.);
    • authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media;
    • employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
    • high salary or other remuneration commanded by the individual for services.(This must be accompanied by contracts or other reliable evidence.);
    • other comparable evidence.


    DEPENDENTS

    Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the O-1 or O-2 principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative O-3 visa. Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visa, or if qualified, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver program.

    There is no requirement that the spouse and/or children of an O visa holder apply for a student (F-1) visa if they wish to study in the U.S.; they may study on derivative O-3 visa.

    WORK AUTHORIZATION

    The holder of an O-3 visa may not work on a derivative visa. If he or she is seeking employment, the appropriate work visa will be required.

    MAXIMUM PERIOD OF ADMISSION

    O visas are valid for the duration of the event for which the individual is admitted, up to three years, and extensions may be granted in one-year increments with no limitation.

    VISA INELIGIBILITY

    Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. In some instances, waivers may be available. Examples of these ineligibilities are:

    • Trafficking in Drugs
    • Having HIV/AIDS
    • Overstaying a previous visa
    • Practicing polygamy
    • Advocating the overthrow of the government
    • Submitting fraudulent documents



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