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How to Acquire a US visa for People Who Have a Special Ability

If you are interested in getting a visa but do not have an employer to sponsor your application, then you can look into getting a nonimmigrant visa. This is called O-1 Visa, which you can also know more about if you click here. The O-1 Visa is a type of Visa that is explicitly given to people with extraordinary skills and abilities in the fields of science, arts, athletics, motion picture, television, and technology.

People who are into business but have made a national or international impact is also considered under this category. All these people can apply for the O-1 Visa because of their accomplishments in their respective fields.


What are the nonimmigrant classifications?

This would help you know which category you belong to. Each visa classification has a different purpose, requirements, and process. Thus, it would help you if you comprehend each O-1 visa classification.

Aside from the O-1 Visa, there are also other nonimmigrant visa types under this classification:

  • O-1A is given to individuals with extraordinary skills and abilities in their fields of business, athletics, science, technology, and business.
  • O-1B is provided to eligible individuals with unique or extraordinary skills and achievements in motion pictures and television.
  • O-2 Individuals are people who are considered for the nonimmigrant visa as individuals who will need to accompany an O-1 individual during their stay in the US.
  • O-3 status is provided to the spouses and children of O-1s and O-2s
Source: Forbes

Qualification and Eligibility

Individuals who are applying for an O-1 Nonimmigrant Visa must demonstrate extraordinary skills sustained by national or international acclaim in their respective fields of expertise. To be considered for the application process, the individual must provide proof that he/she must continue to work in their area of expertise in the United States, and the stay should be temporary.

When one is considered to be extraordinary in the chosen field, he/she must be part of the smallest percentage of successful people. He should have risen to the very top of their field and is backed up by complete documentation to prove it.

Extraordinay ability also refers to “Distinction,” which means a high level of achievement in his/her respective field. It should be backed up by evidence such as recognition (Locally and Internationally), which will consider the individual a prominent figure in his or her field of expertise. Some would even be required to be as a known personality and should be a member of certain groups.

Extraordinary ability also refers to an individual garnering special recognition both locally and internationally, especially with people involved with motion pictures and television. On some occasions, an Oscar nomination, an oscar award, can be proof of extraordinary ability and skill in the field of motion picture and television. There should also be a notable and outstanding contribution to the industry as well.

Source: Herman Legal Group

Application Process

For applying for the O-1 Visa, an individual needs to process a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker form called FormI-129 can be filed at the USCIS office. To know more about the filing, you can always get in touch with the nearest US Embassy or consulate to assist you.

The petition may not be filed for more than a year before the required start of employment or service. The USCIS suggests that one should file the form 45 days before the start of the petitioner’s employment within the United States.

The petitioner is advised to consult with immigration lawyers to guide them with all the requirements. The consultation is not a requirement but is firmly suggested so that the petitioner wouldn’t have to go through the application process over and over. The consultation also includes checking all documents and requirements if they are deemed authentic and should pass the requirements for the application.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will need to translate all the documentation before submitting. If you want to learn more, please check this resource.

Petitioners are guided through the application process, but the embassy suggests they get updated with the status of their application. This is by going to the USCIS website or getting in touch with the embassy in their country.

Source: Chugh LLP


Readmission is a process that allows a petitioner to be readmitted to perform similar activities and services to the United States, given that the time of the employment in the same field and expertise is within two years of the date of a previous consultation.

List of Itineraries of Employment

A petitioner might be asked to present complete documentation of his activities during a stay in the United States. This is a case to case basis as well, but one should always prepare a list of his or her itineraries, just in case the USCIS asks for it. Listed in the itineraries are scheduled activities, events, meetings, seminars, and all occasions that the petitioner will be attending.

Source: Resume Place

Period or Extension of Stay

Upon granting the stay in the United States, a petitioner is initially provided up to 3 years of stay. Still, USCIS can determine if it would deem necessary to provide increments of 1 year depending on the necessity to accomplish their job or tasks during their stay. It is advised that a petitioner, should keep in mind that the activities he or she should be engaged in during his or her stay should only be considered as “authorized”  based on the contract validity.

If the petitioner is requesting an extension, the petitioner is required to provide the following requirements:

  1. A statement coming from the petitioner which explains in detail the reason for his or her requested stay
  2. A copy of his or her I-94 form, arrival, and departure records.
  3. Form I-29 or the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.

It is advisable that if you have any questions about the application and the whole process, get in touch with the embassy and the USCIS website as well. Taking and getting assistance from an immigration lawyer is also advisable, but the USCIS and the US Embassy do not see this as a requirement. Also, make sure you have enough funds to process all the requirements.

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