The O1 visa for the US is a non-immigrant visa, which allows foreign nationals with exceptional abilities or achievements come to the U.S. An O-1 visa is primarily approved for up to three years. Afterwards, it can be extended for one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of extensions that may be approved.

You may be eligible to apply for an O1 visa if you are someone who is successful in your field of work and have excellent abilities or accomplishments.

There are two types of O1 visas:

You can apply for an O1A visa if you have extraordinary abilities in the fields of sciences, arts, education, business, or even athletics.

You can apply for an O1B visa if you have extraordinary ability in the arts or brilliant success in the industry of motion picture or TV.

Source: U.S. Department of State

To be eligible for an O-1A visa, an applicant must submit documents proving extraordinary ability or skill. Common examples of evidence of extraordinary ability include national or international prestigious prizes or awards for excellence, affiliations requiring outstanding achievements, and publications written by or about the O1 visa applicant. Employer of the applicant may provide letters signed by experts in the applicant’s field confirming to the applicant’s extraordinary ability in that ground.

To be eligible for O-1B visa, the applicant will be required to provide documents showing that he or she has been nominated for or have obtained substantial national or international awards or recognitions in the particular field, such as a Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, or Tony Award.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Find the application steps detailed below.

  1. Petition at the USCIS

Your employer or agent in the United States must complete and file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

They can contact one of the USCIS Service Centers, in California Nebraska, Vermont, or Texas and submit the application at least 45 days before the start date of your job, but no earlier than 1 year. If USCIS accepts the petition, they will issue a positive decision. Then you can start your application.

  1. File Form DS-160

The Form DS-160 is an online application form. This form is available at the Consular Electronic Application Center website.

  1. Pay the O1 Visa Fee.

The O1 visa fee $190 must be paid. You can easily pay this online or through bank or as per the instruction of your embassy. Keep the payment receipt with you for further reference.

4  . Schedule an Interview

Schedule an appointment at the US Embassy when you complete the Form DS-160.

  1. Gather the Necessary Documents

You must gather the required documents for your O1.

  1. Attend the Interview

You must be present at the scheduled date and time. A consulate officer from the embassy will ask you a series of questions such as why it is really important for you to get O1 visa.

Source: U.S. Department of State

O1 visa application should have the following documents:

  • A written consultation from someone with speciality on your field. This can be a peer group or a labor/management body, as related to your area of speciality.
  • A copy of the signed up work contract. This must include a summary of the agreement under which you will be employed.
  • A document describing the planned activities and events you will join in.
  • Proof of your extraordinary abilities or achievements.

Additionally, when you appear at the American Embassy for your appointment and interview, you should have the following documents with you:

  • Your passport. It must be valid at the time of application and six months after you intend to depart the United States.
  • Form Confirmation Page of the DS-160
  • The interview Appointment Letter
  • Photograph as per USCIS instructions.
  • The I-797 Approval Notice from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Poof you have paid the Machine Readable Visa (MRC) fee.
Source: U.S. Department of State

The visa application fee for the O-1 visa is $460.

Source: U.S. Department of State

If you do not qualify for the O1 visa, you may have the following options:

The H-1B

The H-1B is a visa allows U.S. companies or employers to temporarily hire foreign employees in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of work experience.

L-1A and L-1B

L-1A and L-1B visas are for temporary intracompany transferees who work in managerial positions or have specialized knowledge or skill.

The TN Visa

The TN Visa was announced by USCIS when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was done in order to simplify temporary employment in the United States for approved Canadian and Mexican people. The sole purpose was to strengthen commercial relations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Source: U.S. Department of State