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All About the O-1 Visa

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. In particular, the O-1B is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry. An O-1 visa is an employment related status that allows qualified aliens to live and work in the United States. O-1 petitions may only be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent on behalf of the beneficiary.

To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must

“demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading or well-known in the field of arts.”

An O-1 visa time period will not exceed three years and may be less than that. Any requests for extensions of stay will be considered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and, once they have determined the time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity, will be granted in increments of up to one year.

For additional information please visit:

Please note that Artists Equity no longer provides sponsorship letters.  We suggest contacting the following organizations:

Special thanks to Emily Wajert for contributing this article.

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