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O-1B visa is issued to people who have shown extraordinary abilities in fields such as film or television industry or in the arts.

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O1B Visa

Extraordinary Ability in Arts, Motion Pictures and Television Industry

The O1B visa category is for international individuals who possess an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. First off it is important to take note that there is a difference in the wording among the two standards: extraordinary ability for the arts and extraordinary achievement for motion picture/TV. According to the USCIS “Extraordinary Ability” means the following:

Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of arts shown by a notch of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the degree that a person defined as prominent is prominent, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

Extraordinary achievement with respect to motion picture and television productions , as normally defined in the industry, means a very high level of success in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, distinguished, or leading in the motion picture or television industry.

Furthermore, all O1B visa holders must be coming momentarily to the United States to remain working in their area of extraordinary ability. The petition is valid for the period of the event, in which you will participate in, for a maximum of three years.


For the purposes of the O1B, the meaning of arts, and artist is broad. Any field of creative activity qualifies. Click here to see professions.

How to Prove you qualify?

First, you and your petitioner can prove extraordinary ability by showing you have a one-time achievement such a nomination for or receipt of a “significant national or international” award or prize in your field, that are equal to an Academy, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild award. Second, you and your petitioners can qualify by showing through documented evidence that you meet at least three of the following suggested criteria:

  1. AwardsFull-Text Statute “Has been nominated for or been the recipient of significant national or international awards or prizes such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Directors Guild Award.” 101(a)(15)(o) and 8 CFR § Sec. 214(o)
  2. EventsFull-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has 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.”
  3. 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(1).
  4. News MediaFull-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications.” 8 CFR 214.2( O)( 3)( iv)( B)( 2).
  5. OrganizationsFull-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(3).
  6. SuccessFull-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion pictures or television ratings, other occupational achievement reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(4).
  7. RecognitionFull-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(5).
  8. SalaryFull-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(6).

*They are not too much of the same, so it is best to follow the links to look at each criterion break down one by one. When there are similarities, you are going to see a little repetition.

Required Documents

The following is a list of available documents that you may include in the O1B visa petition. The list is not complete, and exact details relating to your application should be discussed with an attorney. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case. The list consists of but is not limited to the following items:

  1. Copy of Passport I.D. Page;
  2. Copy of U.S. Visa I.D. Page (if applicable);
  3. Copy of I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (if applicable);
  4. Original I-20’s or DS-2019’s for F1, M1, and J1 visa holders (if applicable):
  5. Resume/CV
  6. Employment contracts

Recommended Evidence

  1. Website printouts that show your name, title, and role within the organization, and letters from those organizations describing your role.
  2. Proof that the organization or establishment is recognized as having a distinguished reputation. The relative size or longevity of an organization or establishment is not in and of itself a determining factor.
  3. Evidence of your performance in a leading or critical role for a prominent organization.
  4. Affidavits, contracts, awards, and similar documentation reflecting the nature of your achievement, executed by the person in charge of the institution, firm, establishment, or organization where prior work was performed.
  5. Affidavits are written by recognized experts confirming to your recognition and extraordinary ability, which shall accurately describe your recognition and ability or achievement in precise terms and set forth the expertise of the affiant and the manner in which the affiant acquired such information.
  6. Letters from current or former employers, co-workers, supervisors, etc.
  7. Affidavits are written by recognized experts certifying to the recognition and extraordinary ability, which shall accurately describe your recognition and ability or achievement in precise terms and set forth the expertise of the affiant and the manner in which the affiant acquired such information;
  8. Photocopies of all documents are acceptable. All documents that are not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.

For more information about the criteria’s and required documents for your O1 visa case, you may visit the USCIS website.

How to apply for the O-1B visa?

File the petition

Your employer must start the procedure by filing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition is the main form for most non-immigrant work visas. Your employer must file this form at least 45 days before you are scheduled to start your work. They also must pay a fee of $460. In addition to the form, they must also submit any proof that you have the extraordinary abilities in art, TV, or film industry. So they must prove that you fulfill the requirements above.

After USCIS gets the petition, they will review it and give a response. If your case is approved, you and your petitioner will get Form I-797, Notice of Action, and then you as the applicant can start your application for the O-1B visa.

File Form DS-160

Form DS-160 or Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is the form that all applicants for U.S nonimmigrant visas fill. You are required to put your information and your purpose for your visit. In the end, when you have finished the form, you will get a confirmation code that you will use later on in the application process.

Pay the visa fee

The O-1B visa cost for the application is $190. Besides the application fee, you might also have to pay other fees depending on your country of residence. After you have paid all the necessary fees, make sure you get the receipts as you will need proof that you have paid them.

Schedule an interview

All applicants must go through an interview with the U.S Embassy in ordered to have your visa issued. This is why you must schedule your interview at the U.S Embassy where you are applying from. If you are in the US an interview is not required, but if you leave you must attend an interview to return to the US. Try to schedule your interview as early as possible, since they might have a high workload and you could end up waiting a long time to complete the process. When you schedule your interview, you will get an interview confirmation letter which you need to bring with you to the Embassy.

Gather necessary documents

Compile a file with the necessary documents to prove your case. This file includes:

  • Your valid passport
  • A photograph according to the Photo Requirements
  • The DS-160 confirmation code
  • The visa interview letter
  • The receipts that you have paid all fees
  • Your Form I-797
  • Proof that you have a job in the U.S (such as a letter from your employer, a contract, )
  • Proof that you have extraordinary abilities (this should be the same proof that your employer has handed into USCIS)
  • If you are planning to bring your family, you must submit proof of your relationship to them (marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificates for your children).

Attend your interview

The last step in your application is for you to attend your interview on the scheduled date. Try to be on time and answer any questions that the U.S Embassy official asks you. Do not be nervous the interview is straightforward and takes no more than 10 minutes.

How long is the O-1B visa processing time?

After you have completed your application, you must wait until the USCIS reviews your case. For the O1B visa, this can be from two to three months. Once the USCIS reviews your application they will let you know whether you were approved for the visa or not. If you are approved for the visa, then you can begin making travel arrangements.

If you do not want to wait two to three months to get your response, then there is a way to speed up the process. For an additional $1,225, premium processing is available for the O-1B visa. The premium processing means that your visa will be processed within 15 days and you will know the answer much sooner.

How long is the O-1B visa valid?

The O-1B visa is initially approved for a period of 3 years. During these 3 years, you can work for your employer or multiple employers, as well as, travel in and out of the country as many times as you need.

If you would like to extend your stay you must file another petition and go through similar procedures so you can get an O-1B visa extension.

If USCIS approves your extension, they will do so for only 1 year unless you apply with a different petitioner. The benefit of the O1B visa is that you can get as many extensions as you can if you are approved, so there is no limit to how long you can stay in the U.S.

Collecting all of your documented evidence is the longest part of the O1 visa application process and can become stressful. We are here to take on this stress. We will offer tips and guidance in collecting all the documents needed to present a solid O1 visa application to the USCIS. Contact us today, info@visasforcreativeartist.com