Basic Information About the O Visa Category

O Category Non Immigrant Visa Process:

O VisaCoverage of the O category

The O category is set aside for aliens of “extraordinary” ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, certain aliens accompanying or assisting those aliens, and their family members. In addition, O non-immigrant’s must intend to work in their area of extraordinary ability or achievement. No numerical cap is placed on the annual admission of these non-immigrant’s, but the definitions covering this category should serve effectively to limit the number of annual admissions.

Duration of stay

There is no explicit statutory limitation on the period of stay for O non-immigrant’s; the initial period of stay can be approved for the time necessary to complete the event or activity or group of events or activities for which the non-immigrant is admitted, up to a period of three years. The USCIS rules define the term “event” to mean an activity such as a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture series, tour, exhibit, business project, academic year, or engagement; in the case of an O-1 athlete, the event could be the entire season or the alien’s contract, if longer than the season.

Procedures for the O category

Classification in the O category requires the filing of an O petition with the Immigration Service in order to obtain permission to employ an O alien for a temporary period. A petition can be approved only after the employer consults with a peer group, labor organization, or management organization regarding the nature of the work to be done and the alien’s qualifications. In most cases, evidence of consultation takes the form of a written advisory opinion obtained from a peer group, labor organization or management organization with expertise in the specific field involved.

An O petition may be filed for multiple O-2 aliens (but not O-1 aliens) when they are assisting the same O-1 alien for the same events or performances, during the same period of time and in the same location; under a revision to the rules in August 1994, multiple beneficiaries listed in the same O-2 petition need not seek their O-2 visas at the same U.S. consulate abroad.

Special conditions

The principal condition regarding O status that must be remembered by employers is that obtaining O status for an alien requires three steps:

  • Obtaining advisory opinion from peer group, labor organization, or management organization.
  • Approval by the USCIS of an O petition supported by the advisory opinion.
  • Issuance by a U.S. consulate of an O visa based on the approved petition.

Also keep in mind the following:

Freelancing not permitted: The final rules issued in August 1994 clarify that an alien in O classification may only be admitted to perform services in “specific, identified” events; O status may not be granted to an alien to enter the United States to free lance in the open market.

Filings by foreign employers and U.S. agents:  Final rules issued in April 1997 revise the circumstances under which a foreign employer may file O-1 petitions. Under prior rules, a foreign employer could directly petition for an O-1 alien. Note the following with regard to each of these circumstances:

  • Cases involving self-employment
  • Cases involving “numerous employers”
  • Cases involving foreign employers

Filing permanent residence papers: The approval of a permanent labor certification or the filing of an immigrant preference petition is not a basis for denying an O-1 petition, an extension of stay request, or a change of status application. The USCIS rules provide that an alien may legitimately come to the United States for a temporary period as an O-1 nonimmigrant, and, at the same time lawfully seek to become a permanent resident.

Employer obligation to pay for return abroad: Employers are obligated to pay for the return trip of O employees whose employment is terminated prior to the expiration of the authorized period of stay.

Family members of O aliens: The family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) of the principal alien are classified in the O-3 category. They cannot engage in employment in the United States unless they are independently qualified.

An O-1 Visa is originally provided for up to three decades. Consequently, it can be prolonged for one season at one time. There is no restrict to the variety of additions that may be provided. If you have any question about O Visa Category, Please contact Wani & Associates for a free consultation. Wani & Associates, P.C is known for its accessibility to its clients. Call today at: 1-866-755-9264

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