The O-1 classification is available for individuals of “extraordinary ability,” i.e., those who have risen to the top of their field of endeavor, a very high standard. The beneficiary of an O-1 petition may be granted an initial period of stay of up to three years, extended in one-year increments. Currently there is no limit to O-1 stay in the U.S.
1) O-1 Requirements
The petition may be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent. The petitioner must demonstrate to the USCIS that the beneficiary is someone of “extraordinary ability” in his or her field. This may be evidenced by documentation of major awards or prizes, publications, patents, citations to the individual’s work, major accomplishments of significance to the field as a whole, letters of reference from other leaders in the field, and any other suitable documentation. There is also a peer group “consultation letter” requirement for O-1 visa petitions. An appropriate “peer group” might be a relevant professional or academic association, an individual with expertise in the employee’s field of endeavor, or a trade organization. The peer group or expert must provide a letter supporting (or, at a minimum, stating no objection to) the request for O-1 classification.
2) How soon can I start?
Processing times for the O-1 petition vary according to the availability of information needed to prepare the petition, government interruptions and backlogs at USCIS. On average, the O-1 visa petition process will take about 30-60 days, but O-1 petition preparation is typically lengthy due to the documentation requirements. Premium processing (15 business day processing) is available for O-1 petitions.
Individuals who are outside the U.S. must apply for an O-1 visa stamp at a U.S. consular post abroad in order to enter the U.S. in O-1 status. Applicants must present a copy of the O-1 petition approval notice from USCIS to the consular post in order to obtain the O-1 visa.
3) Extension of O-1 visa status
Extensions of O-1 status should be filed during the six-month period prior to expiration of current stay, and are granted in one year increments. The employee’s qualifications and the employer’s continued need to employ an individual of extraordinary ability in the offered position must be established anew (and fully documented) with each extension application. If the extension application is filed prior to expiration of the current authorized stay, the individual will have continued work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending. There may be restrictions on international travel while the extension application is pending.
SUPPORT DOCUMENTATION FOR O-1 PETITION
- CORPORATE (prospective U.S. employer):
- Petitioner’s Name and Biographic information;
- Employer’s Federal Tax Identification Number;
- Current annual report and/or audited financial statement, or federal corporate income tax return;
- Any available promotional pamphlets and brochures which describe the company/agent and its various products, service, etc;
- A complete description of the individual’s employment, assignment, performance or event requiring the individuals extraordinary ability;
- Full name and title of contact person (agent or company contact) who will coordinate paperwork and the full name and title of the petitioner’s authorized signatory for documents;
- Copy of all employment and engagement contract(s) between all parties including petitioner, agent, employer, and foreign national
- INDIVIDUAL (Foreign national seeking 0-1 Petition):
- Completed Immigration Questionnaire (CK Form) and Working Visa Addendum (CK Form);
- Photocopies of individual’s passport and I-94 Card, and those of his/her immediate family members who will accompany him/her to the United States , all Forms I-20 or IAP-66 and copy of Employment Authorization Card, if any;
- Individual’s resume, curriculum vitae, and a summary of their field of endeavor;
- Photocopy of individual’s university or trade school diplomas and certificates, and course transcripts;
- Photocopies of individual’s professional licenses, certifications etc.;
- Evidence demonstrating at least 3/10 criteria, including awards, published articles, memberships, certificates, contracts, or any other evidence showing extraordinary ability in their field of endeavor;
- Information on contacts who can provide an advisory opinion and recommendation letters.