Visas for Persons with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
In 2011, a total of 3,385,775 nonimmigrant visas were issued to foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States, according to statistics provided by the Department of Homeland Security. Of these, the O-visa category accounted for only 2.2 percent, making this one of the least common types of nonimmigrant work visas. Unlike many other nonimmigrant visas, there is no annual cap on the number that may be provided in any given year. Rather, the fact that so few are issued reflects the challenges of qualifying for this type of visa.
Types of O-1 Visas
The primary category of O visas is the O-1 visa, which is itself divided into two subcategories. The O-1A is intended for persons who possess extraordinary ability or who have reached extraordinary achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. The O-1B visa is for individuals who have made extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields. In summary, the O-1 visa is reserved for individuals who have reached the heights of their field of endeavor and who are well known for their work, as evidenced by sustained national or international acclaim.
O-2 Visas for Assistants and Support Staff
In addition to the O-1 visa, the U.S. immigration legal system also provides for the O-2 visa. This visa category is offered to people who will be accompanying an O-1 visa holder during his or her stay in the U.S. The individual must play an integral role in the primary visa holder's activity or must be providing essential assistance to the overall production. If these functions could just as well be performed by a U.S. worker, the O-2 visa will not be available.
O-3 Visas for Accompanying Spouses and Children
The spouse and children of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder may be eligible for entry to the United States by applying for an O-3 visa. This type of nonimmigrant visa does not provide the holder with work authorization, though it does permit the individual to pursue an education in the U.S. Note that the children of the primary visa holder will only be eligible for an O-3 visa if they are under the age of 21 years and are unmarried.
O-Visa Period of Stay and Adjustment of Status
The O category of nonimmigrant visa permits the holder to remain in the United States for an initial period of up to three years, though it is possible to apply for an extension of stay under certain circumstances. As a dual-intent visa, however, the O-visa also opens the door for the foreign national to petition for permanent resident status. In most cases, the O-1 visa holder would apply for adjustment of status through the EB-1 employment-based visa. Learn more about your options and get started on your visa application by contacting us now at Keen Law Offices, LLC to speak with a Salt Lake City immigration attorney.