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O-1 US Visa to Enter the United States

O-1 visa lawyer

O-1 Visa Lawyer in St. Charles, MO

If your Missouri company wants to bring in an employee with exceptional skills to the United States, you should consult an O-1 visa lawyer.

The O-1 visa was created to allow a foreign worker at the top of their field to enter the United States and work in the country for an initial term of up to three years. These fields include the arts, business, education, motion picture, sciences, sports, and television.

If someone with extraordinary ability or achievement needs to stay in the country for longer than three years, they may request an O-1 visa extension. 

A significant incentive to choose an O-1 visa is that the person with extraordinary ability’s essential help can qualify for an O-2 visa, which permits them to enter the United States for employment. For example, an actor will need an O-2 visa for a publicist, or a scientist may be able to secure an O-2 visa for a vital lab assistant.

Gateway Immigration Law Firm can help if you are a Missouri employer or agent seeking an immigration lawyer about O-1 visas for people with extraordinary skills. To arrange a free consultation with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer who can address your issues and guide you through the process, contact us online or by phone immediately. For Gateway Immigration Law Firm, no case is too difficult!

Why Do I Need an O-1 Visa Lawyer in St. Charles, Missouri?

Due to the time required to secure an O-1 visa, one must submit all paperwork at least 45 days before requesting entry into the United States.

An experienced Missouri O-1 visa lawyer can ensure that you submit all supporting documents according to the regulations and due dates.

A crucial step in the O-1 Visa procedure is building a case for the client’s benefit and submitting the correct paperwork. Without the help of a professional, it is common to make mistakes when filling out the extensive and complicated paperwork for O-1 visas.

A Missouri immigration lawyer can guide you through the proper procedures for an O-1 visa application and help you avoid mistakes early on.

Am I Eligible for an O-1 Visa to the United States for Employment?

O-1 visa lawyerA foreign national performing exceptional work in the United States can be eligible for short-term work visas, such as the O visa. 

For the O visa, a U.S. employer must at least provide a job offer. There is no annual limit on how many people can get O visas.

Simply put, a “visa” is a document that allows entry into the United States. You will receive “O status” once you arrive in the US. 

Furthermore, if you’re currently lawfully residing in the country, you may apply for an O status without first obtaining a US entry visa. In such a situation, you will need to visit a U.S. consulate to get an actual O visa for re-entry should you ever leave the country while in O status.

The Main Characteristics of an O-1 Visa or O-1 Visa Status

The following are some pros and cons of an O visa or O status:

  • An O visa holder can do lawful work for an O visa sponsor in the United States. However, a new visa is required if the person decides to change jobs;
  • O visas are often issued pretty quickly;
  • The duration of an O visa can be up to 3 years. It can have an unlimited number of one-year extensions, subject to the approval of the extension request;
  • An O visa holder and their family may enter and exit the United States as often as they choose for as long as their visa stamp and visa statuses are valid;
  • The O visa holder’s spouse and any unmarried children under 21 may travel with them, but they are not permitted to work in the US;

What are the Qualification Requirements for an O-1 Visa or O-1 Status?

Those with a job offer in the United States who have demonstrated exceptional ability in the arts, business, education, sciences, or sports can be given an O-1 visa. 

If the U.S. company has been in existence for at least one year, the L-1A is valid for up to three years. The L-1A can, after that, be renewed every two years for a total of seven years. This is a New Office L-1A application if the U.S. firm has not been in existence for at least one year, and the initial validity is just one year.

The L-1A holder must either return home or move to another visa program after seven years. The EB-1C visa allows qualified management and executive-level personnel to permanently stay in the United States.

"Extraordinary Ability in the Athletics, Sciences, the Arts, or Business": What Does This Really Mean?

The applicant must demonstrate extraordinary ability or outstanding achievement and have received sustained national or worldwide recognition for this ability to qualify for an O-1 visa. That can be shown if the individual has won a major, globally renowned prize, such as the Pulitzer Prize or the Olympic medal, or if they have at least 3 of the following achievements:

  • Obtained a distinction or honor for excellence that is recognized nationwide;
  • Obtained membership in organizations that demand extraordinary accomplishments in a field of competence from its members, as determined by reputable national or worldwide experts;
  • Been the topic of articles that have appeared in reputable, major trade publications, or prominent media (concerning you and your work);
  • Have served as a judge for other people’s work in your field of expertise, either on a panel or just individually
  • Contributed a major original scientific, academic, or business-related contribution to the field;
  • Written scholarly pieces for major publications or professional journals;
  • Had previously worked in a crucial or essential position for a company with a renowned reputation; or
  • Have received exceptional compensation for your work. 

The employer submitting the immigration petition may provide comparable and reliable evidence to demonstrate how “exceptional” the applicant is if the abovementioned requirements do not readily relate to their line of work. The employer must carefully specify why the applicant does not meet the requirements above.

Extraordinary Ability in the Arts

Make sure your work complies with the definition of art under immigration law before submitting a United States visa application as an O-1 alien with extraordinary ability in the arts. The regulations of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) define art broadly to include:

“..any area of creative work, including but not restricted to performing arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and fine arts. Along with the main creators and performers, aliens who work in the arts also include animal trainers, arrangers, choreographers, choreologists, coaches, conductors, costume designers, directors, flight masters, lighting designers, makeup artists, musical supervisors, orchestrators, set designers, sound designers, and stage technicians”. (See 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(o)(3)(ii).)

Furthermore, the applicant must be traveling to the U.S. to perform in the area where they have such extraordinary ability. They must be well-known in the field of work. 

The applicant will need to provide documentation to prove that they have won such recognition, like an Emmy, Director’s Guild, Grammy, or Oscar Award, or that they have been nominated for an important national or international honors or prizes in this particular field. Alternately, the employer submitting the petition may include at least three of the supporting documents listed below:

  • Proof that the applicant has participated in plays or events that have a renowned reputation and will continue to do so, as shown by advertisements, critical reviews, publishing contracts, publicity releases,  or endorsements;
  • Critical reviews of the applicant’s work or other published materials by or about them in well-known newspapers, magazines, trade journals, or other media that prove their national or worldwide acclaim for their accomplishments;
  • Proof from articles in magazines, newspapers, trade journals, or endorsements showing the applicant has performed and will continue to perform in a lead, starring, or essential role for companies and institutions with a reputable reputation;
  • Evidence that the applicant has a history of significant commercial or critical successes (as proven by box office receipts, movies, rating, standing in the field, title, or television ratings) and other professional accomplishments documented in major newspapers, trade journals, or other publications.
  • Proof that the candidate has been highly acclaimed for their work by organizations, critics, governments, or other authorities in the field. Such remarks must be written to amply demonstrate the author’s competence, authority, and familiarity with the applicant’s accomplishments.
  • Evidence from contracts or other trustworthy sources demonstrates that the applicant has either demanded a high pay or would demand a high salary or other significant remuneration for services compared to others in the sector.

If the applicant’s employment and circumstances don’t fit the requirements above, the petitioning employer may provide different but equally persuasive evidence to prove their eligibility.

How Can You Apply for an O1 Visa?

When applying for an O1 visa, you must meet the following:

  • Your employer submits a petition to the USCIS on your behalf.
  • Form DS-160 is submitted. Anyone who requests a US visa must submit this electronic application form.
  • You pay for the O1 visa fees.
  • You make an appointment with the closest US mission for a visa interview.
  • Gather the necessary papers.
  • Attend the interview and submit the documents to the US Consulate or Embassy.

The detailed steps for applying are described below.

1. File a petition at the USCIS.

Your agent or your employer in the U.S. must fill out Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, file, pay the application fee, and submit the required documents to the USCIS. There is a $460 application fee.

The application can be submitted to one of the USCIS Service Centers in Texas, California, Nebraska, or Vermont at least 45 days before the start of your job, but not more than one year ahead.

Your employer or agent will receive “notification” of the USCIS’s decision once they have reviewed your petition. If the outcome is favorable, you can start your application process.

2. File Form DS-160.

Form DS-160 is an online visa application form. It is available on the website of the Consular Electronic Application Center.

After filling out the form, you must print the Confirmation Page and attach it to the document file.

3. Pay for the O1 Visa Fees.

The visa fee is a requirement for anyone applying for a US visa.  You can pay the visa fee online or through your bank, but you must keep the receipt since you will need it on the day of your visa appointment.

4. Set up an interview schedule.

Once you complete Form DS-160, you must make an appointment with the US Embassy. This can be done online.

5. Gather the Necessary Papers.

You must gather the paperwork for your O1 visa application while waiting for the appointed date of the interview. You must prepare your passport, receipt for the visa fee, job contract, USCIS decision notification, documentation of your exceptional ability in your field, etc.

The following documents must be gathered before you apply for an O1 visa:

  • A written opinion from an expert in your field. Depending on your area of expertise, it can be from a peer group or from a labor/management organization.
  • A copy of the formal contract of employment. A description of the arrangement upon which you will be hired must be included in the contract.
  • A description of the events and activities in which you will take part. It must outline the nature, beginning and ending times, and schedule of these activities and events.
  • Evidence of your exceptional abilities or accomplishments. For instance, evidence that you have won an award, written publications of relevance to your field, original research that has contributed to your field, is a member of an elite group or organization, or have been paid generously for your abilities and contributions, etc.

You should also bring the following documents when you show up for your visa interview at the US Embassy:

  • Passport. It must be valid for six months following your plan to leave the country;
  • The confirmation page of your DS-160 form;
  • The Appointment Letter from the United State Embassy confirming your interview;
  • A photograph of oneself that meets the criteria of the US Department of State;
  • USCIS’ I-797 Approval Notice;
  • Proof that the Machine Readable Visa (MRC) fee has been paid.

6. Show up for the interview

You must submit your paperwork on the day of your appointment and appear in person for an interview with a visa officer. One of the most critical parts of your visa application is the interview. They’ll ask you about your credentials, how long you’ve worked in your area of expertise, why you need to go to the US to advance your career, and other questions. 

You will need to wait for your visa to be processed when the interview is done, and you will shortly learn of the decision.

Can I Apply for a Green Card With an O1 Visa?

O-1 visas do not automatically result in Green Cards because an O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa. You can, however, change your status to an EB-1 visa which may open a path to US Citizenship for those with exceptional ability in their field. Talk to a Missouri immigration lawyer for questions regarding green cards.

How Long Is the O1 visa Processing Time?

The USCIS will process your O1 visa application in two to three months. Another option is Premium Processing, which provides an answer in just 15 days.

How Long is the Validity of the O1 Visa?

The O1 visa initially has a three-year maximum validity length. If you need to stay longer in the US, your employer or your agent will have to file a new application along with:

  • Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129;
  • A copy of your Form I-94, which is your Arrival/Departure Record; and 
  • A written explanation for the extension. Your employer should describe the job for which you first acquired the visa and why the extension is required so you may carry on with that work.

If you want to keep working but for a different employer, your new employer must also file a new petition.

Gateway Immigration Law Firm Can Help You!

At Gateway Immigration Law Firm, we specialize in providing immigration services to people who want to move to the US. You can get help from our Missouri

if you’re going to live and work in the United States. Call us right now to discuss your particular situation with a Missouri immigration lawyer. We never charge for an initial immigration consultation unless we think we can help you.

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