Type O Visa

The Type O visa is for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in arts, athletics, business, education or sciences. Other areas of ability that are considered under this type of visa are people who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the TV or motion picture industry and has been recognized for those achievements (nationally or internationally).
There are different types of O visa
O-1A: For those with extraordinary ability in athletics, business, education or sciences.
O-1V: Covering those who are under the arts, motion picture or television industry category.
O-2: Where an individual travels with an O-1 visa holder to support an event or performance. This person must be deemed to be an essential part of the team that enables O-1 holder to complete their performance/event. O-2 visa’s will only be granted where the role cannot be performed by a US worker.
O-3: Spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders are eligible for O-3 visas.
For people to be considered to have extraordinary ability they must have demonstrated ability that is in the very top percentile of people within their field. For an athlete, that might be that they have represented their country at their sport/event. For an artist it could be that they have won national or international awards to recognise their talent.

How to apply for a O-1 visa

The first step is for the petitioner to submit a Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker at least 45 days prior to the date that the employment is due to commence.
As evidence that the person qualifies to have extraordinary ability in their field, they will be required to provide examples of how they have demonstrated their ability such as featuring in journals or mainstream media.
Due to the complex nature of evidencing extraordinary ability, each application will be reviewed individually by the USCIS to assess whether they fit the criteria and more documentation and evidence may be requested before approval. If the Form I-129 is approved then the employee will then be required to file the DS-160 form and complete an interview with the Embassy before they will be provides the O-1 visa.
Like many of the other types of visas, people are required to schedule an appointment at the US Embassy in their country to attend an interview where they will be asked for further information about their visit. Where spouse or children are also visiting the US, roof is required to show their relation to the O-1 visa applicant. Following the interview, it can take up to three months for the application to be processed, unless you pay a premium to get it fast-tracked.

O-1 period of validity

The O-1 visa is valid for up to three years. If there is a requirement to stay in the US for longer than that then a new Form I-129 must be submitted in order to request a 1-year extension. Unlike most other US visas, there is no limit in regards to the number of extensions you can apply for.

Other Visas

TN Visa for Mexicans and Canadians

The TN visa, as part of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) applies for citizens from Canada or Mexico to obtain temporary entry to the US for business activities. This is part of a specific economic and trade agreement between the three countries to make it easier to engage in business.

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H-2B for skilled and unskilled workers

Whilst the H-2A visa applies for temporary workers in the agricultural, the H-2B is for temporary workers that are not within the agriculture industry. These jobs are where employers have struggled to find US workers that are able to do the temporary work and must therefore employ foreign nationals to do the essential work. Only nationals of the countries that have been agreed by the DHS are eligible for a H-2B visa, see the full list of countries here.

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L-2 for dependents

The L-2 visa is for dependents of L1 visa holders. The L-1 visa is available for ompany transfers where an employee moves from an office in another country to work at the US office.

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