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Are the US O Visas' Special Treatment for Certain Immigrants?

Thanks to the O-1 nonimmigrant visa, people who have received international acclaim and recognition for their extraordinary abilities in certain fields including athletics, sciences, business, or education, would find it relatively easier to immigrate to the United States. Although it may seem like these people are getting special treatment, these special visas are often necessary for them to do their jobs or other duties.

The O-1 visa privileges also extend to people who have demonstrated and received recognition either locally or internationally for their work in either television or the movie industry. Essentially, there are three classes of the O-1 visa. These include:

  • O-1A
  • O-1B
  • O-2
  • O-3

Below is a detailed look at each of the above-mentioned classes of the O visa.

O-1 Visa

In order to apply for the O-1 visa, the beneficiary must prove that he or she meets all its legal requirements. This includes submitting Form I-129 and the Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. In addition to these documents, a written contract between the beneficiary and a petitioner must accompany Form I-129.

If the beneficiary does not have a written contract, an oral contract is acceptable. However, the oral agreement must contain details of terms offered by the petitioner, as well as terms accepted by the beneficiary. The beneficiary must also provide an advisory opinion written by a group or person with knowledge of his or her expertise. Lastly, the beneficiary must provide a detailed account of itineraries.

This includes dates for events the beneficiary is going to attend while in the United States. It is also necessary to have a good grasp of requirements for agents and sponsors. In simple terms, an agent can be the petitioner, a representative of the petitioner, or a representative of both the petitioner and beneficiary. An agent can perform the functions of the employer, foreign employers, or for multiple employers.

O-1A

To be eligible for the O-1A visa, one must provide evidence of having received an internationally recognized award. Acceptable awards in this category include Nobel prizes and at least three of the following recognitions:

  •  Major scholarly works.
  •  Publications in the beneficiary's field of expertise.
  •  Being an outstanding member of recognized associations.
  •  Having judged the work of other experts in beneficiary's field of specialization.
  •  Having worked in reputable establishments and organizations.
  •  Having received internationally recognized awards in the beneficiary's field of expertise.

O-1B Visa

For the O-1B visa, one must show evidence of having received nomination or awards related to the film or television industry. This includes the Grammy Award, Academy Award, the Directors Guild Award, or the Emmy Award. As you might have guessed, this is a very rarely used type of Visa, but it is very important for some foreign visitors.

O-2 Visa

This is for individuals who will travel together with the beneficiary of the O-1 visa. To be eligible, an applicant must show evidence of being an integral part of the beneficiary's activities.

O-3 Visa

If the O-1 visa beneficiary would like to travel with spouses or children, they will require the O-3 visa.

Although the O-1 Visa has a timeline of three years, a beneficiary can receive an unlimited number of extensions. The extensions usually cover a period of one year at a time. If the beneficiary changes employers, it is the duty of the new employer to submit Form I-129. It is also important to note that during the application process, applicants do not have to provide proof of returning to their countries of origin.

(This article is not intended as legal advice, and should not be taken as such.) 

About the author

Aaron Rooney has written content for immigration websites for 8 years. He has been drawing on his own experiences with animmigration law firm in Toronto.

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