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O-1 Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

The United States of America welcome everyone who is ready to start a new life with good intentions. The US value highly all those who wish to contribute to the country’s prosperity by bringing in their skills and abilities.

There exists a special type of visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement. The O-1 non-immigrant visa is for those who excel in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, who demonstrated high achievements in TV and motion picture industry, and who have been nationally and/or internationally recognized.

Known as ‘Genius visa’, O-1 visa is of priority type meaning it could be obtained fairly quickly. USCIS specifies the following types of visa:

  • O-1A: individuals with extraordinary ability in education, science, business, or athletics;
  • O-1B: individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in film and TV industry;
  • O-2: individuals accompanying the O-1 visa holder to assist in a specific event or performance;
  • O-3: the spouse or children of O-1 visa holder.

Application process for Genius visa is complex. Alongside the required Form I-129 the applicant must submit the following documents:

  • Consultation – a written opinion of a peer group (e.g. labor union) or an expert documenting the applicant’s extraordinary ability;
  • Job contract summarizing details of the proposed work in the United States;
  • Itineraries which include the dates for the proposed events and activities.

In order to qualify for O-1 non-immigrant visa the applicant must prove they have received a major, internationally recognized award, like a Nobel Prize, or present evidence of at least three of the following:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of extraordinary ability;
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their field;
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work;
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought;
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

In the category of arts and TV and film industry the applicant must show evidence that they have received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least three of the following:

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements;
  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements;
  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

In addition the applicant must prove they will continue working in the area of extraordinary ability in the US and prove their work is beneficial to US national interests.

The Genius visa is generally issued for up to three years with possibility of extension for one year. The number of extensions is not limited. The visa beneficiary may engage only in employment during the visa validity period.

Please, contact us for additional information.


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