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O-1 Visa Application Process

Updated 27.03.24 5 minutes read

The United States is keen to bring highly skilled individuals into the country for employment, and as a result, there are many immigrants and non-immigrant visa options that exist for those with an impressive and extraordinary body of work or skillset. Of those, a popular non-immigrant work visa option is the O-1 visa. The O-1 Visa, also known as the Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement Visa, is available to applicants who have a demonstrated and recognized record of extraordinary ability or achievement in a range of industries. This non-immigrant employment visa is widely used in the entertainment industry, where large motion picture production houses use the visa as a means to bring international talent to the US stage.

The visa is broken down into two categories. The O-1A covers those individuals with an “extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics”, but excludes those working in the arts, motion pictures, or television industry, who are instead eligible to apply for the O-1B visa.

As a non-immigrant US visa, the O-1 visa does not directly lead to permanent residency, however, recipients of the O-1 visa often find success in obtaining a green card by changing their status to that an EB-1 Extraordinary ability visa, which is similarly issued to persons with extraordinary abilities, but is an immigrant visa option that leads to permanent residents. Unlike other non-immigrant visas, an O-1 can legally apply for immigrant status without risking the revocation of their existing O-class visa.

Once O-1 Visa approval is secured, beneficiaries are allowed to remain in the United States for an initial maximum period of up to 3 years, however, most visas are valid only for the duration of the project or job for which the beneficiary was brought to the United States to complete. USCIS names the final duration of the visa during adjudication, where the length of the project and the applicant’s involvement determine the overall duration, with a 10-day grace period prior and following the visa’s validity window. Should the project which the O-1 beneficiary not be completed during the visa’s duration, it may be extended in one-year increments, if sufficient evidence is provided to prove that the alien’s continued presence would be required to complete the event or activity for which they were admitted.

To qualify for the O-1 visa, applicants must be able to demonstrate a high level of expertise, usually in a specialized field, or show that they have garnered and sustained national acclaim for their body of work. It is one of the few US employment visas that require a written statement from a peer group, labor organization, or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability, attesting to the applicant’s qualifications.

While demonstrating skill is always a daunting task, a professionally written business plan can help clearly explain and support the need for the applicant’s presence in the US. It serves as an ideal platform to provide a detailed explanation of an applicant’s background beyond the resume and provides USCIS with additional information to form a more complete overall understanding of the applicant’s qualification by providing a timeline of awards, publications, and recognitions, and context for the same. A business plan also serves as a vehicle for explaining to US immigration officers how this particular foreign employee is crucial to the further development of the US business and financial plans that further support any assertions of need.

While a business plan is not a named requirement in the list of O-1 documentation, it can be a greatly beneficial supporting document to include in an O-1 Visa application. Joorney Business Plan’s professional business writers know exactly what USCIS is looking for during adjudication, and can pre-empt their questions and quash concerns before they even arise with a well-developed plan.