O Nonimmigrant Visas

There are three classifications of O visa (nonimmigrant):

  1. O-1: For individual(s) who possesses extraordinary ability in the field of science, arts, education, business or athletics.
  2. O-2: For individuals who will accompany an O-1 or to assist in a specific event or performance.
  3. O-3: For individuals who are the dependents of O-1’s and O-2’s (spouse and children under the age of 21). They may not work in the United States under this classification and are subject to the same period of admission as the O-1 or O-2 visa holder. However, O-3 visa holder may engage in full or part time study.

 If an alien seeks of O visa, the person should file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the USCIS. The I-129 petition cannot be filed more than one year before the services is needed.

The documentation is necessary for the Petitioner to submit, along with the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker:

  • Consultation – Before an O-1 visa can be granted, the applicant must get an "advisory opinion" from a peer group, a group of professionals in the alien's occupation or profession, or from a union, labor, or management organization.
  • A contract between the petitioner and beneficiary which summarized the terms of the agreement. The summary of the terms of the oral agreement must contain: (A) What was offered by the employer and (B) What was accepted by the employee.
  • Itineraries that explains the following:
    1. the nature of the events or activities;
    2. the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities; and
    3. a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable.
  • An agent - An O-1 artist can be sponsored by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.
  • Documentation establishing the skills and experience of the O visa alien and that the alien has substantial experience.

Evidentiary Criteria for O-1A

Generally, to qualify for O-1A classification, aliens must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their field by providing evidence of a major award such as the Nobel Prize; or at least three of the following forms of documentation in their field:

  1. Documentation of the individual's receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
  2. Documentation of the individual's membership in associations;
  3. Published material in professional or major trade publications;
  4. Evidence of the individual's participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others;
  5. Evidence of the individual's original contributions of major significance;
  6. Evidence of the individual's authorship of scholarly articles;
  7. Evidence that the individual has been employed in an essential role/job for organizations;
  8. Evidence that the individual will command a high salary or other remuneration for services.


Evidentiary Criteria for O-1B

To qualify for O-1B classification, the applicant will need to supply documents showing that the applicant has been nominated for or have received significant awards or prizes in thier particular field, such as an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, or Tony Award. Alternately, the employer filing the petition can submit at least three of the following forms of documentation as shown by critical review:

  1. Has performed services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events with distinguished reputations;
  2. National or international recognition for achievements through critical reviews;
  3. Has performed in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations;
  4. Has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success;
  5. Has achieved significant recognition from organizations and experts;
  6. Has commanded or will command a high salary or other remuneration.


Once the O-1/O-2 visa petition is approved by USCIS, the beneficiary can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa. An O-1 visa is initially granted for up to three years. Subsequently, it can be extended for one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of extensions that may be granted.