is a temporary employment-based status for alien of extraordinary
ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics of national
or international acclaim, or TV or movie producers of extraordinary
achievement to come to the U.S. and continue their work in their
visa is an attractive alternative to H-1 visa because, unlike H-1 visa,
O visa does not require the meeting of "Prevailing Wage" for the
employment and application. For aliens intending to work in the U.S.
temporarily for specific projects and programs, meeting prevailing wage
requirement sometimes present a problem.
addition to the prevailing wage requirement, H-1B status also entails
college degree in a specific field, or its equivalent, for the
application. This also posts a problem to professionals who do not have
degree but do have profound skill in a specific field. The O visa is
useful for the individuals without professional degrees but who have
extraordinary ability or achievements in the fields of sciences, arts,
education, business or athletics.
has also become the only practical shelter for visiting scholars in J
status who are facing the expiration of their J status but who either
need to stay in the U.S. longer to complete their research projects, or
who need more time to complete their waiver applications.
EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY RQUIREMENT
To qualify, the alien first must have
extraordinary ability in the above mentioned areas. The standard of
"extraordinary ability" is different depending on the types of
higher standard is applied to scientists, educators, businesspersons and
athletes. The beneficiary must prove "national or international acclaim"
by proving having either received a major internationally recognized
award or meets three of the following prescribed requirements:
Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized award in his
Be a member of certain organizations or associations in his field
that require outstanding achievement;
Article or report in the major media of the alien's field about
Participate in panels or as a judge of the work of others in the
Has made original contributions to the alien's field of major
Author articles in professional journals or other major media of
the alien's field;
Occupy or previously occupied a position in a critical capacity
for organizations that have a distinguished reputation;
Command high salary or other compensation for services for his
2) The extraordinary ability
standard is lower for artists and entertainers. Here "extraordinary
ability" only means "distinction in the related field." As such, it is
not difficult for alien in art field to obtain O status.
Application for O-1 status is filed to the Service Center of the INS
where the "event" will take place or where the alien will work. The
application, however, cannot be filed more than six months before the
alien's work. The application has to be filed by the employer or agent
which sponsors the "event" or which requires the services of the alien.
Frequently, that includes universities or academic institutions,
companies, and athletic and performance agents. The alien can not apply
processing of O-1 application at Service Centers is relatively prompt,
sometimes as short as between one and one and half month. If the
applicant is in the U.S., he may apply to change his status. If the
application is approved, the applicant can go to the U.S. consulate at
Mexico or Canada to apply for the visa. Even J-1 holders subject to the
two-year foreign residence restriction can safely obtain the visa from
the U.S. embassy with the O-1 approval. The visa will allow the
applicant to travel freely in and out of the U.S.
the most special features of O-1 application is the requirement for
"Consultation". According to immigration regulations, the O-1 petition
must includes "consultation" with a "peer group", "labor organization"
or "management organization" regarding the alien's qualification and the
nature of the proposed service and employment. The INS will take
reference to what the peer group or the labor organizations say about
the qualification of the alien and the nature of the proposed
employment, but is not bound by such advisory opinion.
Frequently, however, the petitioner will find no appropriate peer group
or labor organization in the applied field. This is common especially
for J-1 researchers or post-doctorate fellows. In that scenario, the
petitioner just needs to establish that no appropriate peer group or
labor organization exists. INS will adjudicate the petition without
PREMIUM PROCESS PROGRAM WITH PAYMENT OF $1,000.00 FEE (15-DAY
From July 2001 a "Premium Process
Program" is implemented for speeding processing of certain non-immigrant
employment-based applications. Under this program, if the applicant is
willing to pay an additional $1,000.00 "premium" to the INS, the INS
will process the application within 15 days after its receipt of the
application. The applicant will receive either an approval or a Request
for Additional Evidence within 15 days after INS receives the
application. If the application is eventually rejected, the INS will
refund the paid premium.
Currently, this program applies to
visa types like H-1, L-1, E-2, and O-1 applications. Certainly, for
those who need to obtain the status within a short period of time, it
has provided a very convenient route.
OF AUTHORIZED ADMISSION
Basically, O visa allows aliens to stay in the U.S. to complete a
specific "event" like completing a research program or sport season.
The period of admission, therefore, can last as long as the event
lasts. Depending on the length of the "event" described in the
application, the INS may grant an initial admission period up to three
years to allow the O applicant to complete the activity. After the
three-year period, the alien may apply for extension one year at a
time. There is, however, no limit on how many extensions the alien may
who accompany O-1 aliens need to obtain O-3 visas. O-3 aliens must file
their petitions in conjunction with the O-1 alien. O-3 aliens can be
grouped together but require a separate petition. O-3 aliens cannot work
unless they individually obtain a workable status themselves.
TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY
The criteria required for O-1
application is very similar to that required for alien of extraordinary
ability in sciences, arts and education under the employ-based first
preference category. Hence, it is common that an O-1 later obtains
permanent residency through first preference as an alien of
extraordinary ability. If the alien can prove that his research will
generate great national interest to the U.S., he can also apply for
"National Interest Wavier" under the second preference.
For example, many of our clients start
their journey to permanent residency from J status. They will change
their status to O-1 under our assistance and at the same time seek
waiver either from the country of their nationality or country of last
residence, or from an interested government agency. After being in the O
status, our clients seek classification as an alien of extraordinary
ability or outstanding researcher under the first preference category,
or seek national interest waiver. If the O-1 holder is not originally a
J-1 and is not subject to foreign residence requirement, he can also
change his status to H-1 and seek employment-based immigration through