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The O-1 visa as an alternative for those who are not selected for H1B

Once the selection period for an H-1B visa ends, if you have not received any results, it may be time to consider an alternative route. The O-1 visa is one that may be a possible substitute for H1B hopefuls.

Commonly called the “Artist visa,” the O-1 visa is not necessarily limited to a fixed number of fields and can apply to any individual with extraordinary abilities.

Any person who can demonstrate they are an individual possessing extraordinary achievements in the arts, athletics or design can apply for an O-1 visa. The visa can also be issued to those who can provide evidence they have extraordinary ability in fields such as medicine, science or computer programming.

The range of fields that fall under art are diverse, from singers and film directors to instrument players and jewelry designers. In order to determine whether you might be eligible to receive an O-1 visa, we recommend consulting with a lawyer.

Requirements for the O-1 visa depends on the field, but in general terms, the applicant must be able to show proof of being an award recipient in their field; or evidence they played an instrumental in a project or event in their field through media reports; or prove outstanding financial success in their field; or be able to produce letters of recommendation from experts in their field that speak to their level of achievement.

Even those who are just starting their careers out of college, and may think they lack the evidence needed, may be eligible for an O-1 visa. USCIS considers not only proven skills and abilities, but also recommendation letters that show an individual’s potential, and plans for projects that may not yet be completed. Because of this, it’s important for applicants to prepare a detailed report of their future plans in their field.

Unlike the H-1B visa, there is no quota set for the O-1 visa, which means you can apply at any time. The O-1 visa is granted for up to three years, and may subsequently be extended one year at a time.

If you are thinking about working in the U.S., or were not picked in the H-1B lottery, or missed the time period to apply for an H-1B, we encourage you to speak with an expert to find out whether you might be eligible for an O-1 visa, and to collect any evidence that could help your case.

Law Offices of Gary J. Kim
3731 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 502Z
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 427-6262