O-1 Visa: The Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Recognized Achievement

San Francisco O Visa Immigration Lawyer

The immigration law firm of Litwin & Smith assists United States employers and foreign nationals in obtaining O visas. These visas enable foreign individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or recognized achievement in the motion picture or television industry to work in the U.S. temporarily on a short- or long-term basis.

Contact us if you are a seeking an O visa, or an employer wishing to hire a non-U.S. citizen for employment in California.

The O-1 Visa

The Immigration Act of 1990 created the nonimmigrant O visa classification for nonimmigrants with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, and for those with extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

Our attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in all opportunities and requirements associated with non-immigrant O visas.

  • O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
  • O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.
  • O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1's and O-2's

There are three noticeable features of the O classification:

  • First, the nonimmigrant must be extraordinary in their field of endeavor-that is, superior to others in terms of knowledge, ability, expertise and accomplishments.
  • Second, their ability must be corroborated by an opinion from a source in their field.
  • Finally, they must be coming to the United States to continue to work in their field of extraordinary ability. However, the position itself need not require a person of extraordinary caliber.

See INA § 101(a)(15)(O) for the definition of an "O" nonimmigrant.

About Litwin & Smith

We have been very successful in preparing and obtaining O nonimmigrant visas for employers and subsequent immigrant visas and green cards for their employees on O. We prepare hundreds of such petitions each year. We offer excellent service at a competitive price. Of course, price isn't everything. Timeliness, responsiveness, professionalism, and expertise are all part of providing an employer quality guidance and representation. We are known for our availability, responsiveness, timeliness, professionalism and expertise.

O-1 Visa Holders Do Need to Meet the INA's "Foreign Residency" and "Non-Immigrant Intent" Requirements

The O category, like all other nonimmigrant categories except H-1, L, and V, is subject to the presumption of immigrant intent imposed by INA Section 214(b). The presumption requires a noncitizen to prove entitlement to nonimmigrant status, both to the consular officer issuing the visa and to the immigration inspector at time of admission. The question of nonimmigrant intent arises on visa application, entry, extension of stay, or change of status; it is not usually involved in the petition.

O-1 noncitizens need not have a residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning; nor must they seek to enter the United States temporarily. In contrast, the statute imposes both the foreign residence and the temporary entry requirements upon O-2 noncitizens. The O regulations respect this distinction, and do not require O-1 aliens to have a residence in a foreign country.

An O-1 Visa Holder Can Apply for Permanent Residence

A recurring question is whether a noncitizen can take steps toward permanent residence, like becoming the beneficiary of an immigrant preference petition, and still maintain nonimmigrant intent.

Generally, with respect to O visas, the Department holds that the filing of a preference petition or approval of a labor certification is not a basis for denying the nonimmigrant visa and that the O applicant may properly intend to lawfully seek permanent residence. However, we advise clients to avoid international travel while their application for permanent residence is pending.

The Petition Must Be Filed By the Employer

O nonimmigrants cannot petition for themselves. The regulations specifically provide that a foreign petitioner must use a U.S. employer or agent to file a petition. See 9 FAM 402.13-2. Additionally, USCIS has issued policy memoranda on the requirements for establishing the "Employee-Employer Relationship" in visa petitions. See Determining Employer-Employee Relationship for Adjudication of H-1B Petitions, Including Third-Party Site Placements.

Establishing the "Employee-Employer Relationship

· The agent must demonstrate to the satisfaction of USCIS that it is "in business as an agent," through the submission of contracts with the employers, fee arrangements or statements from the employers regarding the nature of the representation.

· The agent can function as an employer and provide a contract with the beneficiary that specifies the wage offered.

· A separate legal entity owned by the O-1 beneficiary may be eligible to file a petition on behalf of the O-1 beneficiary

Our Firm is a Nationally Recognized Premiere Immigration Firm

We at Litwin & Smith represent employers in most of the various industries represented around the Bay Area and across the U.S. We are a boutique immigration law firm representing large and small business clients.

  • Mr. Litwin is a renowned leader in obtaining employment based nonimmigrant visas and green cards through labor certification. He taught most of the immigration practitioners in the field today.
  • Mr. Smith is an accessible and responsive former corporate counsel and seasoned immigration attorney with a dedication to client service and passion for client success. He has extensive experience counseling small and large multinationals organizations with difficult immigration issues.

We routinely provide immigration assistance to foreign nationals from all over the world. To find out more detailed information pertaining to you specifically, and to determine a strategy based on the letter of the law, I recommend you schedule a consultation appointment with Mr. Litwin to discuss the O process in greater detail.

Litwin & Smith specializes in immigration law. Our firm is nationally recognized as a premiere immigration firm. We routinely provide immigration assistance to foreign nationals from all over the world. We have offices conveniently located in Santa Clara, South San Francisco and San Francisco. Telephone consultations are also conveniently arranged for those out of our area.

Experienced U.S. Immigration Lawyers in California

At Litwin & Smith, we are accomplished at helping both individuals and employers meet all requirements for H visa applications. We have an extraordinarily high approval rate for our immigrant and business clients.

Legislative Background of the O-1 Visa

Prior to the enactment of the Immigration Act of 1990, most noncitizens now eligible for the O visa category would have been admissible as H-1B temporary workers of "distinguished merit and ability." In the 1990 Act, the immigration agency issued new H-1B regulations limiting the number of visas available while creating stiffer standards for the new "O" and "P" categories. This is why the O visa classification lacks the numerical restrictions of the H-1B. Presumably the few noncitizens who can meet the exacting tests of "extraordinary ability" will be highly beneficial to the United States and are unlikely to take jobs from U.S. workers.