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Extraordinary Ability – Artist and Entertainment Visas

(O-1A and O-1B Visas) – Immigration Lawyer in New Jersey, New York and Indiana

O-1A and O-1B Visas: 

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 can be open to those who will make a significant positive impact on the country. However, as many O-1 visa lawyers will tell you, the key to approval in this field is garnering a strong bundle of evidence.

Distinguishing between the O-1A and O-1B Visas:

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’ list of items that prove your extraordinary ability.

How to Qualify for an O-1 Visa:

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:

  • That you have been and will be a lead role in a reputable production;
  • Recognition for your achievements on a national or international scale;
  • Having a lead or starring role in a reputable organization;
  • Commercial success in your field demonstrated by reviews, newspapers, publications, etc;
  • Recognition from organizations for your achievements;
  • A large salary that indicates your extraordinary ability.

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-1 visa lawyers to learn if such evidence can be used. 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 referenced items.

Evidence Necessary to Obtain an O-1B:

In order to receive an entertainment visa, which will provide you with permission to enter the U.S. and work and reside here temporarily, you must provide convincing evidence of your particular talent. Pertinent evidence includes significant national or international awards or prizes in your field (e.g. an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director's Guild Award) or at least evidence of three of the following:

  • Past performance as a lead or star in production or events that have been touted in critical reviews, advertisements;
  • publications and/or publicity releases or endorsements;
  • National or international recognition and critical acclaim ;
  • Acclaimed successes shown by ratings, box office receipts, film or television ratings and occupational achievement reported in major publications;
  • Recognition for achievements on a national or international scale from government agencies, experts in the field, and/or testimonials from critics;
  • Continually high salary in comparison to others in your field.

What is the Period of Stay available to O-1 visaholders?

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 the 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 Form 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.

Is there a Green Card Path from the O-1B Visa:

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 an individual in O-1 status can work toward the 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 successes, or exhibited work to prove your extraordinary 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 category. Also, with current priority dates, you will not have to wait to adjust your status once your I-140 is approved.

In order to avoid processing delays, if you want to obtain an entertainment visa you should fill out and submit the necessary documentation at least 45 days prior to your desired date of employment.

Because entertainers, like others who come to the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas, often want their family members to accompany them to the United States, another visa exists for this purpose: the O-3. By filling out the proper documents and including the proper evidence, the performer's spouse and children can accompany him or her and stay for the time allowed -- usually 3 years with the possibility of annual extensions. In addition, O-2 visas may be obtained for individuals who will serve as assistants to the performer in question. Family members of the performer will not be permitted to work during their time in the U.S. and assistants will be restricted to working only for the performer with whom they entered this country.

Entertainment visas are often needed on relatively short notice and are important to the performer's reputation enhancement as well as income. These are good reasons for you to engage the services of a skilled and savvy business immigration attorney to guide you through the process. 

If you are considering an O-1A or an O-1B Visa, please feel free to contact the business immigration lawyer at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C. at info@visaserve.com . For more information on these and other immigration Visas click here.  You can also call us at 201-670-0006.


National in scope, the business immigration law firm of NPZ Law Group represents clients from throughout the United States and around world. Regionally, our attorneys remain committed to serving the immigration needs of businesses in the Tri-state area and the Hudson Valley, including residents of Ridgewood, Newark, and Jersey City, Burlington County, Bergen County, Camden County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Hudson County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Passaic County, Salem County, Union County, northern New Jersey, southern New Jersey, central New Jersey, NJ; New York City, Rockland County, Orange County, Westchester County, Kings County, Sullivan County, Ulster County, New York, NY; Chicago, Illinois, IL; and Toronto and Montreal, Canada. Our nationwide practice focused on quality legal representation and personal service.



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