The O-1 status is a non-immigrant status category for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. This is an employment-related status; foreign nationals with this status may live and work in the United States. O-1 petitions may only be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent on behalf of the beneficiary.
There are several categories of an O visa:
- O-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.
- O-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or the extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
- O-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 individual to assist in a specific event or performance.
- O-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s.
O-1A Visa Criteria
Here, we will discuss briefly about the eligibility for an O-1A visa, also known as the “extraordinary ability visa.” If someone has received a major, internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, he/ she meets the criteria of an O-1A. For lesser recognitions, the petitioner employer must demonstrate that the alien (beneficiary) meets at least three of the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards
- Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements
- Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media
- A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts
- Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments, that have a distinguished reputation.
The O-1 status is distinguished from other employment related status in that it applies to more types of work and skills than other visa categories, such as H or L. For example, the H-1B status is limited to professionals (with academic credentials, normally), and therefore, athletes or entertainers do not qualify for an H-1B, but potentially may qualify for an O-1 status. There is no annual quota for the O visa (e.g., unlike an H-1B for professional, which is limited to 65,000 visas per fiscal year). There is no home-residency requirement, unlike the J-1 exchange visitor program. Our O-1 visa lawyers can give you more information regarding the requirements and stipulations of this visa.
Examples of Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Who Used the O-1 Visa
This extraordinary ability visa has been the “go-to” visa for entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley. This visa category does not require a college education, something that many of our ever-younger entrepreneurs flocking to the Silicon Valley lack. Furthermore, entrepreneur sees minimal options in other employment-based (immigrant or non-immigrant) visa categories, as they typically require an employer, which entrepreneurs lack because they work for themselves.
For example, John Collison is a 25-year-old Irish national who dropped out of Harvard University and co-founded Stripe, a payments company, with his brother Patrick. He obtained his O-1 visa to live and work in the United States in December 2010 and now has permanent residency status. Another example is John Buckley, a 23 years old British-born entrepreneur (of a gaming company, MinoMonster) who applied for an O-1 visa after starting a few small companies, including one he sold at age 15 for a sum reaching the low six figures. He saw little hope with the traditional work visas, such as an H-1B, since he worked for himself.
If you are a foreign national, and you are a technologist aspiring to reside in Silicon Valley, California, the climate is just right to apply for the O-1 extraordinary visa. Contact our O-1 visa lawyer in San Jose today for a consultation.