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Extraordinary workers from around the world have a unique pathway to the U.S. through the O-1 visa. Whether you are a scientist working under the O-1A or an actor working under the O-1B, U.S. borders are open to those who will make a significant positive impact on the country. However, as many O-1B visa lawyers will tell you, the key to approval in this field is evidence.
The O-1B is a nonimmigrant visa specifically designed for foreign nationals who can demonstrate extraordinary achievement in the areas of art, television, and film. This is opposed to the O-1A, which focuses on the areas of business, science, education, and athletics.
In order to be eligible, you must prove to the USCIS that you are in the top percentile of our field. You can do this by submitting evidence from the USCIS’s list of items that prove your extraordinary ability.
If you have an internationally-recognized award like an Oscar or Grammy, then that will suffice as evidence for your O-1B visa. Otherwise, you will need to submit evidence of at least three of these things:
Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. If you feel like you have an attribute that may qualify you, bring it up with your O-1B visa lawyers to learn if it is eligible. This is covered under the term “comparable evidence” by the USCIS. However, it is important to note that this exception only applies to applicants in the field of the arts. Those in the film and television industries must submit evidence of at least three of the above.
The O-1B processing time depends heavily on two things: whether you are in the U.S. currently or abroad and the caseload of the service center that is processing your petition.
If you are already working in the U.S. under a different nonimmigrant visa status, then your status will change to O-1B automatically when your I-129 petition is approved. This usually takes an average of 6 months depending on the service center.
However, if you are outside of the U.S., you will need to go through consular processing. This involves making an appointment with the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. Once the appointment has been made, you will need to wait until the appointment date before traveling to the consulate for a one-on-one interview with a consular officer.
The processing time for this step depends on how busy the consulate is and when your appointment is scheduled. The actual interview can take as little as 20 minutes, but you should check with your O-1B visa lawyers to get a better idea.
Fortunately, there is a solution if you find that the 6-month processing time is too much. The USCIS has extended a premium processing service to shorten your I-129 petition’s processing time to 15 calendar days. If they fail to process your petition in that time, your premium processing fee will be refunded.
Please note that this does not ensure that the USCIS will approve your petition. It also does not expedite any other part of the O-1B visa process, only the I-129. Speak with your O-1B visa lawyers to determine if premium processing is right for your case.
Regardless of how you obtain your O-1B visa, it will be valid for an initial period of 3 years once it is granted. While this may not seem like a very long time when compared to the H-1B visa’s 6-year and the L-1A visa’s 7-year period, the O-1B allows holders to apply for an unlimited number of 1-year extensions provided that your work requires you to remain in the U.S.
All you need to do to extend your O-1B visa is to have your employer file a new I-129 petition with the USCIS. Your employer should also include your I-94 form that has an unexpired departure date and a letter explaining the reason for the extension. As long as this process can be repeated, you can stay in the U.S. until your work is completed.
Not an extraordinary actor or artist? Learn how you can obtain an O-1 visa as an independent contractor!
Naturally, due to the fact that the O-1B shares many similar characteristics with green cards such as the EB-1A, it is a common path to permanent residence in the U.S. Unlike some other visas such as the J-1 or TN, the O-1 is a “dual intent” visa, meaning that you can work toward your green card.
The EB-1A is a great choice because the requirements are much like those for the O-1B. To qualify, you also need to be an alien with extraordinary ability. Like the O-1B, you can use international awards, commercial success, or exhibited work to prove your ability.
Some of the main benefits of the EB-1A are that you do not need a job offer or a PERM Labor Certification to petition, meaning that you can self-petition for this green card. Also, with current priority dates, you will not have to wait to adjust your status once your I-140 is approved.
As soon as you file your I-140 green card petition, that date becomes your “priority date”. All green card applicants must wait until their priority dates are current with the “final action dates” posted for their category in the monthly visa bulletin released by the Department of State. You can use premium processing to speed up your I-140 processing time.
Some applicants need to wait several years for their priority dates to become current. However, as mentioned above, most of the dates for the EB-1 category are current, meaning that you can adjust your status immediately. Be sure to check the most recent visa bulletin to be sure that your category is current.
Here is a quick overview of the mandatory and optional fees you may encounter while applying for an O-1B visa:
If you are simply changing your status
If you are going through consular processing
Getting an O-1B visa is a prestigious and highly sought-after feat that not many people accomplish. Because of this, it is very important that your case is rock solid before submitting any evidence to the USCIS. You can attempt to do this alone and risk denial, or you can turn to an O-1B visa lawyers.
The experienced O-1B attorneys at VisaNation Law Group are ready to use their years of experience to give you the best opportunity for approval. From gathering the right evidence to handling any issues that might come up along the way, our attorneys are uniquely qualified to help you with your O-1B visa.
To make sure that your case is in the right hands, complete this simple contact form and let us schedule your O-1B visa consultation.