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Understanding How The O-1 Visa For Aliens With Extraordinary Abilities Works

Understanding How The O-1 Visa For Aliens With Extraordinary Abilities Works

For many business professionals, the prospect of working in the US is a dream come true. With its low taxes, high wages, quality healthcare, and freedom to do what you want, it is no wonder why so many people dream of immigrating to the United States.

Figuring out how to immigrate to the United States as a non-resident can be daunting. Plenty of options are available, but many are more complicated than necessary. If you have extraordinary skills in a particular area of work, you will want to consider applying for the “O-1” visa for aliens.

It is a better option than other visas because it allows you and your family to live in the US for three years. The USCIS defines an alien of extraordinary ability as ‘someone who has demonstrated exceptional talents or professional achievements in one or more specific fields.’

If you meet this and other criteria, you may be eligible for a temporary O-1 visa for aliens or a permanent green card. The requirements for both the temporary and permanent option visas are very strict. USCIS requires a certain degree of expertise, which shows that you have excelled in your field.

Your petition must show that you have the experience, skills, and knowledge to immigrate to the United States and make substantial contributions to the country. Here is some useful information that can help you go through the process of an O-1 visa for aliens.

What is the O-1 visa?

O-1 visas are non-immigrant visas designed for people with exceptional skills in certain fields, such as science, art, education, commerce, or sports. They are also valid for people nationally or internationally recognized for their outstanding accomplishments in the film or television industry.

It is a dual-intention permit that allows the visa holder to change their status from an O-1 visa to a green card for the purpose of permanent US residence.

Types of O-1 visas

There are two types of O-1 visas: the O-1A and O-1 B. The O-1A visa is only issued to applicants who have demonstrated exceptional skills in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics. On the other hand, an O-1B visa is an O-1 visa for aliens issued to applicants who work in the arts, motion pictures, or television industries.

The requirements for O-1B visas are slightly lower than those for O-1A visas. However, applicants must demonstrate exceptional skills in any of the fields.

O-1 visa and the EB-1 status

O-1 visas for aliens are often seen as the non-resident version of the EB-1 visa, also known as the “extraordinary ability green card,” which allows individuals to obtain permanent residency in the United States. EB-1 and O-1 visas require residents to demonstrate that they are highly qualified in their field of study.

While there is no “automatic transition” from an O-1 visa for aliens to an EB-1 status, beneficiaries of O-1 visas for aliens can get an EB-1 status. Therefore, an O-1 visa is an excellent option for working your way toward EB-1 status if you wish.

To achieve this, you will need to demonstrate to USCIS your intention to continue to utilize your exceptional talents under the EB-1 status by creating an impressive portfolio of your work and filing it with your EB-1 application. Your change of status could take up to a year to process.

If your application is denied, you will need to be prepared to leave the United States at the end of your authorized non-immigrant stay. O-2 visa holders can also seek legal permanent residence. Since their petition will only be considered on its own merits, they may also be able to apply for EB-2 and EB-3 statuses.

However, this may be more difficult to prove the exceptional ability to change your visa status.

Lifespan of O-1 visas

Most O-1 visas for aliens are active for three years. However, they may be shorter if the visa was issued for a particular event or activity. Visa holders may be granted one-year extensions if they can continue demonstrating the skills for which the visa was issued.

While non-immigrants can enter the US 10 days before their O-1 visa takes effect and may leave 10 days after its expiration date, they are not permitted to work there during that 10-day period.

Since there are no maximum O-1 visa extensions, skilled non-resident visa holders can continue to apply for extensions on an O-1 visa for aliens without worrying about reaching a maximum.

Dependents and workers of O-1 visa holders

O-1 visa extensions may also be granted to dependents of the primary visa holder, such as an O-3 visa, which allows the dependents to travel with the primary visa holder to the United States. The dependents are entitled to study in the United States but not to work.

O-2 visas are issued to workers accompanying O-1 visa holders to assist them with a particular event or performance. O-2 visa applicants must have skills and experience not available in the US resident labor market, essential for O-1 performance.

The advantage of the O-1 visas

1. No need to show home-ties.

O-1 visas allow you to enter the US and take an employment position that requires an exceptional individual in your industry. You do not need to keep a foreign residence or demonstrate intent to return home while applying for O-1 visas.

2. Makes provision for dependents.

Your dependents can stay with you while you maintain O-1 status, and your children can attend school while you are in the United States.

3. Freedom to travel within the US freely.

O-1 visas for aliens allow you to travel freely within the United States as needed. This is especially helpful for digital nomads or perpetual travelers who do business all over the US.

4. No annual cap.

Since there is no annual cap on how many O-1 visas can be issued, you never need to worry about losing your chance because you may have applied later than someone else.

5. No extension cap.

In addition, there is no cap on the number of extensions. If you already have an extension, you don’t have to worry about hitting a cap – although extensions are not automatic, it is important to be aware of that.

6. You can work in different areas.

The O-1 visa for aliens allows you to participate in more work areas than other visa categories, such as H or L visas.

7. High income.

One of the biggest advantages of working in the US is the income potential. Professionals in technology, finance, entertainment, health, education, and law can expect to earn six-figure incomes in the US, which is much more achievable than in many other countries. This kind of income can be achieved early in an individual’s career.

8. Visas for work assistants.

If you are an O-1 visa holder with an assistant or worker in your home country, they can be issued an O-2 visa to accompany and help you in the US.

9. Health-care provision.

Many other countries provide healthcare, but many US employers not only provide healthcare to their salaried employees but pay for it in full or near-full coverage.

10. Low taxes.

Some countries, such as Singapore and Monaco, have lower or zero tax rates, but the US generally has relatively low tax rates by global standards. You don’t have to pay state taxes in states like Texas, which further reduces your tax burden.

11. Available jobs.

Another reason to live and work in the US is its economic variety. Because the US is so large and has jobs in nearly every industry, it can hire people in almost any industry – unlike most smaller countries with lower tax rates.

12. Free/cheap sign-up for the American mailbox service.

A lesser-known but important perk is the ability to sign up for an American mailbox service at low or no cost. This service scans your mail and forwards it to you directly via email, giving you the freedom to choose what is or isn’t forwarded to you.

General eligibility for the O-1 visas

The O-1 visa for aliens is easier to get than you think, but it sets a high bar with its requirements. That is why you will need to review them thoroughly before you apply. There are three types of criteria that the US looks for in a petition:

The first is called initial or primary criteria, or criteria that are based on actual facts (e.g., whether the beneficiary has received a Nobel prize or published a book).

The second is called opinion letters, which are defined by experts who aren’t in the beneficiary’s circle of influence (i.e., experts who can review the primary evidence to see if the applicant meets the skill and requirement criteria).

The third criteria level consists of evidence supporting the scholarly criteria (initially or primary) or the expert opinion letter. To begin the O-1 visa application process, applicants must first have been offered a job by a US employer.

The application processes

You can start preparing your application if you meet the O-1 visa requirements. Before you start, you need to decide if you want to apply for the O-1A or O-1B visas. To start the application process, you must file the O-1 petition (form I-129) with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

It is important to note that form I-129 can only be filed less than one year before an individual’s O-1 visa application. However, to avoid any delays, you should file your form I-129 no more than 45 days before your date of employment.

The O-1 visa petition must be filed by an employer or an agent in the United States. You cannot file your petition on your behalf, as O-1 visas are not self-petitioned. The petitioner is the US company or agent, and the beneficiary is the individual wishing to obtain the O-1 visa for aliens.

Once the USCIS has approved your petition, you will be asked to submit an online form called DS-160. This form must be submitted online. After that, you will need to pay your visa fee and book your visa interview at your nearest US embassy or consulate.

Then, you will need to compile your documents and go to the US embassy or consulate for your visa interview. After your visa interview, you will be notified whether your O-1 visa for aliens is approved.

Get help!

Immigration is a complex process, and the right immigration lawyer can make all the difference between success and failure. Hiring the right immigration lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make in your immigration journey.

Gehi and Associates have a team of experienced immigration lawyers who can help you with every aspect of your immigration case. Even the most complex cases can be handled by our experienced immigration lawyers. Contact us today to get started with your immigration case!

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