Each year, thousands of individuals come to the United States in order to work for an American company, start a business, or pursue artistic endeavors. These individuals bring with them a rich background and robust skill set that helps create a more diverse workforce and stimulate the U.S. economy. If their skill set is particularly unique, they may choose to pursue an O visa for their work. Given the stringent eligibility requirements and lengthy application process, many turn to Los Angeles O visa lawyers for guidance.
At Diaz Law Firm, we have served as legal advocates and counselors to countless foreign professionals who wish to bring their talents to the United States. We are passionate about connecting the world through our legal practice and helping our clients meet their goals of working in the U.S. If you are a highly skilled professional and are interested in applying for an O visa for your work, consider contacting our Los Angeles office at (626) 261-0402 today.
What Are the O Visas?
The O visas are a category of employment-based visas designed for professionals with extraordinary ability or achievement in their field. While these visas are allocated for short-term work and do not allow for permanent residency in the United States, O visa holders may pursue their Green Card through other employment-based avenues later on. There are three primary categories of O visas, which all have different eligibility requirements and distinct application processes.
The O-1A Visa
The O-1A visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics. The term “extraordinary ability” is a key component of this visa option, but the definition of this standard is not always clear. According to the USCIS, sustained national or international acclaim in a field is considered a primary indicator of extraordinary ability. There are also other ways to prove a person’s extraordinary ability, such as demonstrating that the individual has published extensively in their field, has won a major award, has been employed in a critical capacity as a member of an esteemed organization, or commands an extremely high salary for their work.
The O-1B Visa
The O-1B visa is used for persons who exhibit extraordinary ability or achievement in the arts or in the industries of motion picture and television. This distinction can be proven by the receipt of a one-time major achievement like a Grammy, Oscar, or Director’s Guild award, for example. Other ways to substantiate a person’s extraordinary ability or achievement include a performance in a critical role at a distinguished organization, a demonstrated record of commercial success, or a high salary compared to others in the field, among others.
The O-2 Visa
The O-2 visa is for the supporting personnel of O-1 artists or athletes who will provide support with a specific event. To qualify for this visa, a person must prove that they are a critical member of the O-1 visa holder’s team and that their work cannot be completed by other workers.
The O-3 Visa
This category is reserved for the relatives of O-1 visa holders, specifically the visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. On this visa, the family members of the O-1 visa holder may remain in the United States, engage in study, and travel in and out of the country on short-term trips abroad.
What Are the Requirements to Meet Eligibility for the O Visa?
The requirements to meet eligibility for the O visa are highly specific, and it is important to fully understand whether you qualify for this visa category before applying. All options require that a person has a job offer in the United States and proven extraordinary ability in their field. Specific requirements vary from visa to visa, however.
To qualify for an O-1A visa, you must prove that you have won a major internationally recognized award (like the Pulitzer or Nobel Prize) or illustrate your extraordinary ability through other means. Across the board, possessing extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics necessitates that you have a certain level of expertise. This expertise must indicate that you are one of a small minority of individuals who have risen to the very top of your field.
The eligibility requirements for the O-1B visa are slightly different. For this visa category, you must prove that you have won an important national or international award or meet a threshold of other requirements. Extraordinary ability in the realm of arts means that you have attained a high level of achievement. This can be evidenced by a degree of skill and esteem that is notably above that which is ordinarily encountered. In essence, you must prove that you are prominent or renowned in your industry.
With such stringent eligibility requirements, it is important to provide ample evidence to demonstrate your place in the field. Our experienced Los Angeles O visa lawyer has worked alongside numerous distinguished professionals to help them successfully apply for and obtain an O visa for their work in the United States. We are confident in our ability to guide you through the process as well.
How Do You Apply for an O Visa?
The O visa application process can be arduous and time-consuming. The first step of the process is filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and paying the necessary application fee of $460. This petition is filed by your employer. Once the petition is approved by the USCIS, you may file Form DS-160 online through the Department of State. Upon completion of this form, the visa interview will be scheduled at your nearest embassy, where you will be required to produce the necessary documents for the O visa, including proof of your extraordinary ability in the field. After the interview, a decision will be issued, and you may travel to the United States.
How Long Is the O Visa Processing Time?
The processing time for O visas is typically shorter than other visa categories, largely due to the fact that these options allow applicants to bypass the Labor Certification Application process. It is difficult to estimate the length of the O visa processing time, as the process varies depending on your location, USCIS and State Department backlogs, and the quality of your application. Standard processing times are often between four to seven months but can take much longer in some cases. Premium processing is also available for O visas, which guarantees a decision within 15 days.
How Can You Adjust Your Status from a Temporary O Visa to a Green Card?
One of the key benefits of the O visa compared to other work visas is that it offers the opportunity to obtain a Green Card through the employment-based immigration process. The O visa is considered a dual intent visa, meaning a person will not be penalized for seeking permanent residency in the United States while they are working on this nonimmigrant visa. This is different from other visas, which require proof that the visa holder intends to leave the United States at the end of their period of stay.
To adjust your status from a temporary O visa to a Green Card, you must first decide which avenue you want to take in order to secure permanent residence. Some of the most common options for O visa holders include:
- EB-1A Extraordinary Ability
- EB-1B for Outstanding Researchers and Professors
- EB-1C for Multinational Managers or Executives
These options are common because of their similar eligibility requirements to that of the O visas, which your Los Angeles O visa lawyer can review in greater detail in a one-on-one consultation. The standard of evidence for the Green Card is notably higher than that of the O visas, so it is important to fully understand the evidentiary requirements for this employment-based immigration option.
To adjust your status from an O visa to a Green Card, you must first file Form I-140 with the USCIS. Once that petition is approved and your priority date becomes current, you may submit Form I-485 to adjust your status. In some cases, you can expedite the process by filing both at the same time.
Hiring a Los Angeles O Visa Lawyer to Help You
Whether you are an employer looking to hire top talent from around the world or you are a professional with extraordinary ability, our experienced Los Angeles O visa lawyer is here to help. With combined decades of experience in navigating the immigration process for professionals with extraordinary ability, their families, and supporting staff, our attorneys understand how to successfully apply for and obtain O visas for our clients. To learn more about how our team can help, consider connecting with Diaz Law Firm at (626) 261-0402 today.