An O-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that is also known as a special talent visa This visa is often given to individuals with extraordinary talent who want to live and work in the United States for a limited period of time. Categories that fall under this umbrella include: education, business, models, entertainers, actors, singers, individuals involved in the arts and professional athletes.
This type of visa is actually more subjective than most. The standard is essentially national as well as international notoriety and it can be shown by multiple different factors.
Athletes on an O-1 Visa
If you ever stopped to think about it, how are all of these people playing on sports teams in the US when they are from different countries. They are essentially working in the US and getting paid by a US employer. The answer is the O-1 Visa. Professional sports teams, farm teams, or semi professional sports teams will generally always get one an opportunity to qualify for an O-Visa. The immigration officer would consider looking into any publications about the individual, including the Internet. Whether or not they have any type of scouting ranking, their prospects in the sport, any awards they have received and any other notoriety they have established. These types of visas can be granted in every sport from professional football to mixed marital arts.
Actors, Actresses, Models, Entertainment Industry on an O-1B Visa
For people in the entertainment industry there is a subsection of the O-Visa called the O-1B Visa. This is done because the credentials in the entertainment industry may be a little different than for someone who is a professional educator or lecturer. For example a singer may be able to show a music video, a contract with a well-known record label, a magazine article, a Wikipedia page and again any type of wards they may have won in the past. They can also look into the current contract that you have for work and the amount of the salary for the work that will be performed.
The USCIS describes part of the process where one needs to get what they call a consultation. Now the way they use this word isn’t the way it is generally used. A consultation here means a written document by someone who is from your industries labor organization describing your talent. If it can be proven that no labor organization exits for the desired area then it may be waived depending on the supporting documentation.
How do I apply for an O-1 Visa?
To apply for an O-1 Visa, one needs to fill out an I-129 form http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-129.pdf which is an application for a nonimmigrant visa. Being a nonimmigrant visa application means that the person doing the work does not intent to permanently live in the US at the time the application is filled out. The application can be filled out and sent to the proper USCIS office and it is usually a good idea to have this sent in at least 60 days before the expected travel date. The application cannot be done more than a year before the expected employment date.
What is the period of stay for an O-Visa?
The maximum period for a single application is up to 3 years but USCIS will look every year to see whether the individual is still working and when they are going to finish their project. This visa can be renewed at any time by filling out the exact same form but notifying that it is an application for an extension. If you change employers while on this visa then the new employer needs to file a 1-129 form immediately. Lastly, athletes have a special rule in this scenario. If they are traded, this essentially means that they have a new employer. However, the US government will give a 30 day grace period where the individual can work for the new team they have been traded to. Within that time, the new team must file a new I-129. If they fail to file it within the grace period then the individual loses their immigration status and loses the ability to work in the US.