O-1 Status is a non-immigrant status category for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts (including the television and motion picture industry), education, business or athletics. This is an employment related status that allows qualified aliens to live and work in the United States. O-1 petitions may only be filed by a U.S. employer or a U.S. agent on behalf of the beneficiary. The O-1 visa is a dual intent visa, meaning that the beneficiary may simultaneously seek permanent resident status while in the U.S. on O-1 without worrying about preconceived intent issues.
There are several different types of visas in the O category:
O-1A– Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or
O-1B– Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or the extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry
O-2- Individuals who will accompany an O-1 individual to assist in a specific event or performance
O-3- Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s
The initial period of stay for O status is up to 3 years. An approved O petition will have a validity period commencing with the date of approval and ending with the date requested by the employer. This date is not to exceed the date U.S.C.I.S. has determined necessary to complete the work-related event or activity that the alien is engaged in while in the U.S. Any requests for extensions of stay, submitted to U.S.C.I.S., are considered in increments of up to 1 year.
Who can apply for a O-1 Visa?
O status can be sought by an employer in the U.S. for an alien of extraordinary ability. The Code of Federal Regulations defines a qualifying event as “an activity such as, but not limited to, a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture, series, tour, exhibit, business project, academic year, or engagement.”
In addition, a job which may not have a specific engagement or project that exactly fits the above definition may also count, if the job is the “activity” within the alien’s area of extraordinary ability. Activities such as these may include short vacations, promotional appearances, and stop-overs, which are incidental and/or related to the event.