The O-1 visa is a temporary work visa available to foreign nationals who have “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics” which “has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.” It is also available to those in motion pictures and television who can demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement.” Most fields of artistic endeavors are included in USCIS′s broad interpretation of the statute. The individual must be coming to the US to work in their field. The initial period of stay can be approved for up to a period of three years but may be extended in one-year increments for an indefinite period of time. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join the applicant in the U.S. under O-3 status, where they may not work, but they may attend school.
Please note that an O-2 classification only applies to an accompanying foreign national who is coming temporarily to the U.S. solely to assist in the artistic or athletic performance by an O-1 visa holder. The O-2 applicant must be an integral part of the actual performances or events and possess essential or critical skills and experience with the O-1 visa holder that are not of a general nature and which are not possessed by other individual. In the case of a motion picture or television production, the O-2 applicant must have skills and experience with the O-1 principal which are not of a general nature and which are critical, either based on a pre-existing and working relationship or, if in connection with a specific production only, because a significant portion of the pre-production through post-production will take place both inside and outside the U.S. and the continuing participation of the O-2 applicant is essential to the overall completion of the production.
Good to Know: A U.S. agent may file an O-1 petition in cases involving workers who are traditionally self-employed or workers who use agents to arrange short-term employment on their behalf with numerous employers, and in cases where a foreign employer authorizes the agent to act in its behalf. A U.S. agent may be: The actual employer of the beneficiary, the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary; or, a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent. Some individuals that may fall into this category include but are not limited to: Actors, Entertainers, Musicians, and Authors.