If you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or records of extraordinary achievements in the television or motion picture industry and want to enter the United States, you might not know where and when to start. Immigration law rules are complicated and timelines long. If you apply for the visa yourself, you might file an incomplete application. A single mistake can result in delays. If you engage an experienced law firm, the time-consuming and costly errors could be avoided. At California Immigration Attorney, we know effective help is challenging to find, so our seasoned attorneys can review your application and documents to get you the visa as soon as possible.

Understanding O-1 Visas

0-1 visa is designed for a person who has an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or those who have records of exceptional achievements in the television or motion picture industry and have been recognized either internationally or nationally for their accomplishments.

Typically, O nonimmigrant categories are called:

  • O-1A — Persons with extraordinary abilities in sciences, business, athletics, or education (It does not include television, motion pictures industry, or the art)
  • O-1B — Persons with ability in arts or achievement in television or motion picture industry
  • O-2 — People who accompany the O-1 athlete or artist to help in a given performance or event
  • O-3 — Children or spouses of the O-2 and O-1 visa holders.

Definition of Arts

As far as 0-1 nonimmigrant visas are concerned, the term art is broad. It is any creative endeavor or activity like visual arts, fine arts, performing arts, and culinary arts. It encompasses many people, not necessarily performers or principal creators but above the line. They exercise creative judgment and apply imagination to preserve and enhance creative arts.

That means the following might qualify for the 0-1 nonimmigrant visa:

  • Directors
  • Set designers
  • Sound designers
  • Lighting designers
  • Choreologists
  • Choreographers
  • Coaches
  • Orchestrators
  • Costume designers
  • Stage technicians
  • Makeup artists
  • Animal trainers
  • Music supervisors

How to Prove Extraordinary Ability

The law offers three (3) approaches to proving extraordinary ability. You could show exceptional abilities by demonstrating a previous achievement. It can be a receipt of or nomination for a significant international or national prize or award in a given field like Emmy, Academy, or Grammy.

Second, you can qualify as an alien without the rare previous achievement by verifying that you meet more than three (3) of the suggested criteria below:

  • You will perform or have performed as a starring participant or lead-in events or productions with a distinguished reputation, shown by ads, critical reviews, PR releases, contracts, endorsements, and contracts.
  • You have received international or national recognition for achievement through critical reviews in published materials about or by the foreigner in a major paper and trade journals.
  • You will perform or have performed in a critical role, starring, or lead for reputable organizations, proved by testimonials or media articles.
  • You have records of significant acclaimed success.
  • You will command or have commanded a high salary or other remuneration.
  • You have achieved recognition from critics, recognized experts, government agencies, or organizations.

The menu-driven way is suitable if you squarely meet the criteria. However, the approach burdens the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services examiners to depend on the criteria, causing them to disapprove petitions for unsuitable reasons. Additionally, meeting only three criteria isn't adequate. The USCIS is entitled to retreat from your petition and analyze it from a broader perspective.

Finally, as an alternative or supplement to the menu-driven method, the comparable evidence strategy helps you to offer other forms of proof for cases that the recommended criteria do not fit. Comparable evidence refers to letters from experts in the identical or related field. Although there isn't a magic number of letters needed, an O-1B petition should have more than five. The letter should:

  • Describe in details the credentials of the author
  • Prove how the author knows you (it can be by reputation or personal relationship)
  • Give opinions that address the standards outlined above.

The experts could be performers, diplomats, academics, peers, or governmental representatives from abroad or the States. The USCIS recognizes any national arts service organization as an eligible peer group to offer a non-labor pre-petition consultation letter.

What is General Requirement?

A person should prove extraordinary ability by international or national acclaim or record(s) of extraordinary accomplishment in the television and motion picture industry and should be staying here temporarily to work in their extraordinary ability area to be eligible for the O-1 visa.

The extraordinary ability for the O-1 visa means a degree of expertise showing the individual has risen to the top of their field.

On the other hand, extraordinary abilities in the art refer to distinction. It is proven by the level of recognition and skills significantly above the ordinarily experienced, to the degree that you're renowned, prominent, well-known, or leading in arts.

To be eligible for this visa, the person should prove extraordinary achievement. It is established by the level of recognition and skills substantially above that normally experienced, to the level that the individual is recognized as notable, leading, or outstanding in the television and motion picture field.

For you to qualify for the O-2 nonimmigrant visa, your assistance should be a fundamental part of an O-1A nonimmigrant visa holder. You should have experience and skills with an O-1A visa holder, which aren't general, and a United States worker cannot perform with ease. If you are in the television or motion picture industry,

  • you should have experience and skills with an O-1 nonimmigrant visa holder that aren't general and essential based on pre-existing work relationship, or
  • founded on precise production because production will happen outside and inside the USA, and your participation is vital to the completion of that production.

If you meet the criteria above, the next step in acquiring approval is advocacy by a seasoned immigration lawyer. If your case facts are well-presented and persuasively argued, a petition that satisfies the criteria should be approved. Sometimes petitions with amazing facts are denied because they aren't well-presented. The immigration officers don't have the time to sort through your petition and supporting documents and understand what you are trying to argue.

How to Apply for the O-1 Nonimmigrant Visa

Your United States employer, foreign company through a United States agent, or a United States agent must file Form I-129 together with the necessary evidence for you. The agent or employer should not bring I-129 more than a year before requiring the services. The agent or employer should bring your petition at least forty-five days before your employment date to prevent delay.

A Summary of I-129

Commonly referred to as Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129 is submitted to the USCIS by a United States employer to sponsor an alien for temporary work in the states. It can also be used to issue another status for foreigners or update your current visa status.

Completing I-129

Make sure the information on the petition is correct and legible. If your petition is accepted but has inaccurate information, you might encounter challenges. The form has thirty-six pages. Eight (8) pages are for the key information, while the rest contain supplemental information.

Although the form is lengthy, it's the responsibility of your U.S employer to bring the petition. To help beneficiaries and petitioners, the USCIS offers an additional twenty-nine-page instructions guide. You could find the guide on the USCIS official website.

Signing Your Petition

After all the required details have been offered, your employer's authorized representative should sign the document. It can be the company-appointed lawyer. The signatures must be in black.

Where and When to Bring Your Petition

Your United States employer should file the petition at least six months before your employment date.

The petition can be brought at:

  • The Vermont Service Center (VSC),
  • The Texas Service Center (TSC),
  • The Nebraska Service Center (NSC), or
  • The California Service Center (VSC),

Depending on the nonimmigrant action and classification you are requesting for and the employer's location.

Filing Fees

The filing fee is four hundred and sixty dollars and should be sent alongside the petition.

The application, biometric services, and petition fees are non-refundable irrespective of the petitioner's decision to withdraw the request or the final decision or action of the USCIS.

Can Your Petition Processing be Delayed?

A delay might occur when the petition fails to provide the appropriate filing fee or information. In this case, your petition process should be restarted. You can also experience a delay if the USCIS discovers that a Request of Evidence is essential.

Documentary Evidence

Alongside the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, you should provide the following documentary evidence:


Your U.S-based employer should give advisory opinions from an individual with proficiency in your area of abilities or a peer group. If a person with extraordinary accomplishment in television or motion picture is filing the petition, the consultation should originate from the suitable labor union alongside a management firm with knowledge in your capability area.

When the consultation has a watermark or any distinctive marks to verify your document's genuineness, the petitioner should submit the version with the distinguishing mark or the watermark. Documents without the necessary watermark could raise doubt as far as your document's authenticity is concerned, resulting in delays. The USCIS could even ask the petitioner to provide the original copy of the documents.

Exemption to Your Consultation Requirements

If the United States agent or employer can prove that the required peer group doesn't exist, the

USCIS will make a decision based on the proof submitted to support the I-129. The immigration agency can waive the consultation if you have an extraordinary capability in art and want readmission to deliver similar services within two (2) years from your prior consultation. The agent or employer must send the waiver request, copies of your initial consultation, and petition.

The Contract Between Beneficiary and Petitioner

The petitioner should provide copies of a contract between them and the beneficiary or an overview of their oral agreement terms.


Your agent or employer should describe the activities or events, the duration of the activities or event, and provide copies of the itinerary for all the activities or events. The petitioner should prove an activity or event in the extraordinary capacity for the duration requested, like itineraries for sequences of events or tours.


An agent can be your employer, a representative of you and your boss, or an entity or individual authorized by your boss.

Evidence Proving Your O-1 Qualification

The petitioner should prove the extraordinary capability in the athletics, sciences, business, or education or exceptional achievements in the motion picture industry. Your record should include more than three forms of documentation matching those in the rules, and the evidence should show that you satisfy the requirements for classification.

How to Apply for O-2 Nonimmigrant Visa

As previously mentioned, this visa is meant for persons who will accompany an O-1 athlete or artist to assist in a performance or event in the USA. The visa doesn't apply to people accompanying O-1 visa holders working in science, business, or education.

Discussed below is a step-by-step guide on the application process:

Bringing a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

The application process resembles your O-1 visa application process. It begins with bringing form I-129.

You shouldn't file the petition at least more than a year before an O-1 visa holder's date of employment. The petition should be presented more than forty-five days before your employment date to prevent any delay.

While the O-1 and O-2 visas are related, the petitioner can't use one form. Nevertheless, the petitioner could use one Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker for a single O-2 application as long as all beneficiaries will help one O-1 visa holder during one event at one location and at the same time.

Peer Consultation

Your employer should prove your consultation letter. A recognized peer group in your field should write the letter. The letter should be submitted alongside a statement indicating when the event will happen and your responsibility in the event.

If you are a crew member of the extraordinary athlete or artist, your consultation should originate from the necessary labor organization. And if you are a crew member in the television and motion picture industry, your consultation should be given by the labor firm together with a management company with knowledge in your field.

Should the petitioner establish that the peer group doesn't exist, the final decision will be based on your proof of record.

Consular Interview

After the USCIS approves the petition, an individual will undergo the consular processing. They should book an interview with the American embassy or consulate in their country and attend an interview with a consular officer.

You should carry the following documents to your interview:

  • Your valid passport
  • A photo following the photo requirements for a United States visa
  • DS-160 confirmation code
  • Visa interview letter

The consular officer will ask you questions about your life, work history, the U.S based boss, and the plans after arriving here.

How Long is the O-2 Visa Valid? Can the Visa be Extended?

The rationality of your visa depends on an O-1 nonimmigrant visa. In other words, it is dependent on the duration of the event or project. The validity period is three years (identical to an O-1 visa).

Irrespective of the length of the permitted duration, you will have 10 days prior to the beginning date to enter here and ten (10) days following the last date to return to your home country.

Should the extension of your stay be needed, you can file a petition for the extension with an O-1 holder using the documents below:

  • Another I-129
  • Copies of an Arrive and Departure Record (Form I-94)
  • A statement describing why you require an extension — The statement must account for the previous activity or event and a practical argument why you require an extension to complete or continue the event.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can approve your extension in increases of one year. If you came with your children and spouses as O-1 visa holders, they should bring I-539 and supporting documents.

What is Your Application's Processing Time?

Typically, the processing time could take a couple of months or a year, depending mainly on the institution handling the petition.

Generally, the processing process of a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker takes six (6) months.

Luckily the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services provides premium processing for a visa application, which uses Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

After paying the additional costs, the processing duration of the petition could be reduced to fifteen days. Nonetheless, it is not guaranteed the premium processing accelerates the case. A busy service center will refund the premium fees if it fails to process the petition within the agreed time.

The premium processing only accelerates Petitions for Nonimmigrant Workers. Please note, it doesn't guarantee that the petition would be approved. Consequently, it is essential to inquire from a seasoned immigration attorney whether paying premium processing is necessary for the case or not.

Application Fees

The basic Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker filing fee is four hundred and sixty dollars. The DS-160 price is one hundred and ninety dollars, while the biometrics charges are eighty-five dollars. The beneficiary should pay the biometric and DS-160 fees while a United States employer should pay the I-129 fee.

What are the Limitations of O-2 Visa?

An O-2 visa has the following limitations for a foreign national:

  • The visa holder should establish a permanent and stable foreign residence that they don't plan to abandon and stay here.
  • Because the visa is related to the O-1 visa, your employment activities should be temporary and in support of the O-1 visa holder whom you are dependent on.

O-3 Visas for the Family of the O-2 and O-1 Visa Holders

An O-3 visa allows the children (unmarried and below 21 years) and spouses to accompany a loved one who is an O-2 or O-1 visa holder to the USA. The time you could spend in the USA is equivalent to that of the O-2 or O-1 visa holder.

To be eligible for the O-3 nonimmigrant visa, you should be an immediate family member of the O-2 or O-1 visa holder. You should be able to establish the fact. Moreover, like with all visa applicants, you should not have a criminal history.

Understanding the Application Process

The boss of your parent or spouse should file an I-129 on your behalf. If you and your parents or spouse are here, you should file Form I-539 together with I-129 requesting your status to be changed to O visa holder. And if you're abroad, you should wait till the I-129 is approved, take the approved petition to your local consulate and then apply for your O visa.

The total applying cost includes a machine-readable visa processing fee and petition fee. The fees are not refundable. Additionally, you might be required to pay reciprocity fees hinging primarily on the agreement between the US and your country of nationality.

You will require the following documents when applying for the visa:

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, a completed State Department Form DS-160
  • A color photo
  • Marriage or birth certificate establishing a family relationship
  • A copy of the I-797 Approval Notice from your loved one's I-129

Are there Extension Rules?

The visa is granted for a maximum period of three (3) years or the same duration for which a corresponding O-2 or O-1 Visa is issued. The USCIS might grant an extension of an O-2 or O-1 in increases of a year, hinging on the amount of time required to complete the activities or events.

Can You Convert the Visa to a Permanent Resident?

Having the O-3 visa doesn't result in a green card. Nonetheless, being in America might allow your loved one or you to make connections that might help qualify for the green card on employment grounds.

Find Legal Representation Near Me

The O-1 visa is offered to foreigners based on exemplary aptitude in education, art, athletics, science, and business or those that have shown unique achievements in the motion picture or television industry. Obtaining a visa can be a complicated process with numerous phases.

Fortunately, you don't have to worry about the steps once you seek legal assistance. At

California Immigration Attorney, we focus on U.S immigration law, giving us unmatched experience and competence. As a result, we can guide you through the visa application process.

We invite you to talk to one of our seasoned attorneys today at 424-789-8809.