Move to the USA with an O-1 visa

Learn everything about the O-1 talent visa
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What is an O-1 visa?

The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which is given for up to 3 years. This visa is suitable for people with extraordinary achievements in Arts, Sports, Science, Business, Film, etc.

Advantages of the O-1 Visa

If you’re interested in moving to the US, the O-1 visa provides a unique path to relocation with many benefits:
No limit

Unlike H-1B visas, there is no maximum number of O-1 visas a year that immigration officers can issue and you will not have to participate in the lottery
No tie to a specific employer

H-1B visas also tie you to an employer and have a minimum salary of $60000 yearly, whereas O-1 visas don’t require you to have any specific salary, and you can be your own boss by opening a business or work for multiple employers through an agent scheme
Family reunification

Your spouse and children can apply for O-3 dependent visas to accompany you to the US
Pathway to a green card

The O-1 visa is a stepping stone to getting a green card
Unlimited period of stay

Unlike L-1 visas on which you can stay in the US for the maximum period of 7 years, you can extend and renew your O-1 visa indefinitely
Low tax burden

On an O-1 visa you will pay tax only on income earned in the US whereas as a green card holder you will be required to pay tax on income earned from inside and outside the US
In 2023 alone, 19892 O-1 visa applications were submitted. Of these, 18994 were approved — that’s 95%.
O-2 and O-3 Accompanying Visas
  • O-2 visas are for individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a special event or performance. For example, this could be their manager.

  • O-3 visas are for family reunification (spouse or children) of O-1 or O-2 visa holders.
O-1A vs O-1B
  • O-1A visas are for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. For example, Software Developers, Founders or CEOs.
  • O-1B visas are intended for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or television/film industry. For example, comedians, actresses, or dancers.
  • Some professionals can apply for both O-1A and O-1B. For example, UX/UI designers. To decide whether it’s better to apply for O-1A or O-1B, you’ll need to consult with an immigration attorney as only an experienced and licensed immigration attorney can determine your eligibility.
Get the O-1 visa

O-1A Visa Requirements and Criteria

You’ll need to prove you have an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.
If you have won a major award, like a Nobel Prize or Olympic medal, then this is usually enough to prove extraordinary ability. However, winning a major award isn’t necessary.

In fact, you can meet the requirements just by simply presenting at least three of the following:

International or national prizes or awards in your industry

Provide a photo of a trophy or photocopy of a certificate and attach a supporting letter, describing in great detail the history of the competition, how many people were considered, how many people pay any notice to this, the criteria you had to meet to be considered, who the judges were, etc.

Read more about the “awards” criteria →

Membership in an association for professionals with outstanding abilities

Provide a certificate of membership or personal account of a member or another form of proof. You’ll need to also add confirmation that the association only accepts truly outstanding members. This can be proven with membership rules or a letter from a senior member. Provide links, the bylaws, and proof of how you were accepted.

Read more about the “membership” criteria →

Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about you

Provide a copy of the article along with its translation, if needed. Also include a screenshot, dictating the website traffic. You’ll also need to prove the authority of the publication by its position in ratings, volumes of citations, or other means.

Read more about the “Published Materials About You” criteria →

Original contributions of major significance to your field

You can provide proof of this by including copies of research papers, patents, copyrights, or proof your project was the first one to use any specific new technology.

Read more about the “Original Contribution” criteria →

Authorship of articles in professional journals, or other major media

Include the publication text, cover, publication date, source, table of contents, and certificate of publication. Also include reviews of your work and a conclusion from the publishing house. If it’s a scientific research article, you’ll need to include people who have cited your work, the impact factor, and DOI. However, depending on your field, proving this may look different. For example, if you were a coder, you could showcase your article that was featured in a professional media outlet.

Read more about the “Authorship of scholarly articles” criteria →

Employment in a critical or essential capacity for a company or organization that has a distinguished reputation

To prove that your company has a distinguished reputation, you’ll need to provide a description of the company’s work and show awards, top ratings, any press coverage of the company, evidence of financial success such as annual shareholder reviews or volume of sales, the number of employees and offices, any patented solutions, and anything else that’s important to your company and its success. You’ll also need to prove that you worked in an essential role with letters from your bosses, investors, or managers.

Read more about the “Employment in a critical or essential capacity” criteria →

Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others

Include copies of official documents, mentions of the event in the newspaper, explain why you were asked to judge and who you judged, or other proof.

Read more about the “Judging” criteria →

Proof that you commanded or will command a high salary or other remuneration

For this, you’ll need to prove your salary is considerably higher than the average salary of a specialist in the same profession as you. To do this, you’ll need to provide articles or statistics on the labor market in your region.

Read more about the “High salary” criteria →
Although providing 3 of these requirements is necessary to receive an acceptance, we highly recommend you to provide as many documents as you can, meeting as many requirements as possible.
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O-1B Visa Requirements and Criteria

Similarly with the O-1A visa, if you have won a major award, like a Grammy or Oscar, then this would usually be enough to prove your extraordinary ability.
However, it’s not necessary to have one of these awards, as you’ll be able to meet the requirements by providing at least three of the following:
  • Proof of your previous or future performance as a lead or starring participant in reputable events or performance as evidenced by critical reviews, ads, public releases, or contracts.
  • Proof of national or international recognition of your work, as shown by publications by or about you in major newspapers and magazines.
  • Publications and testimonials proving your previous or future performance in a lead, starring, or critical role for prestigious companies or organizations.
  • Major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as shown by ratings, box office receipts, or publications in trade journals and major newspapers.
  • Evidence of your recognition in a form of testimonials from recognized experts, critics, industry leaders, or important organizations.
  • Proof of receiving a high salary or other remuneration.
Although providing 3 of these requirements is necessary to receive an approval, we highly recommend you to provide as many documents as you can, meeting as many requirements as possible.
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O-1 Visa Costs and Timeline
Case preparation:
3-4 months (without publicity boosting)
Final decision:
1-5 months or 15 days with premium processing*
The cost of our services (incl. attorney’s fees):
~€10000
Processing fees:
I-129 filing fee
$530 / $1055
depending on the company size
Asylum fee
$300 / $600
depending on the company size
Fees upon approval:
Outside the USA
DOS visa fee
$205
Inside the USA
Change of status
$420
per person, including family members
*Premium processing is optional:
$2805
Reasons to Include an Immigration Attorney
Having an immigration attorney ensures that you’ll have the best chances. An immigration attorney can advise on which visa path best fits your qualifications, the best way to proceed with employment, how to enhance your publicity, and a general case strategy. In addition to this, only immigration attorneys have the right to give legal advice. And an immigration attorney would be the one to write a cover letter for your O-1 application, which is the case’s most important document.
Our trusted immigration attorneys →
Reasons to Work with Relogate
Successful cases
150+
Save your time
Relogate will prepare all the necessary documents, from letters of recommendation to explanatory notes
Quality Guranteed
You will have an immigration attorney on your case
All-in-one service
Our partners can help you with PR, employment, translations, and more
Relogate can help determine which option is best for you and help secure it.
O-1 success stories:
Want to get an O-1 visa too?
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How to Establish Your Own Company or Find a Job in the US for the O-1 Visa?
Since the O-1 visa is a work-based nonimmigrant visa, you’ll have to have an employer in the US. You also must be employed in the same field as your area of expertise. For example, if you are an excellent product manager, then you should be a product manager in the US. If you are an amazing athlete, then you should get a job as an athlete, not as a sports coach.
This can be done in one of three ways:
  • Getting a job offer in the US, which is the more straightforward, but time-consuming route.
  • Opening your own company in the US with a co-founder, board member, partner, or manager with the authority to sign contracts and hiring yourself.
  • Using an agent and providing a letter with a detailed employment plan and letters of intent from future employers.
Our trusted partners →
Publicity Enhancement
Having a great publicity when applying for an O-1 talent visa can vastly increase your chances. If your publicity needs enhancement, Relogate provides additional services. Publicity might look like this:
  • Articles written by you.
  • Good search engine results when someone looks up your name.
  • Interviews given to media outlets.
  • Being featured as a judge on a competition.
  • Being a keynote speaker at an event.
  • Getting an industry award.
Our trusted partners →
Common Errors
Make sure you don’t fall for these common traps:
  • Don’t list more than one professional activity. For example, if you are an actor and a director, choose one. Don’t list both.
  • Don’t make claims without hard evidence. If you claim you are the best performing member on your team, back it up with proof.
  • Don’t choose a different career from a sudden career change. Make sure your timeline of experience matches up.
  • Don’t forget to make sure all your forms are up-to-date and include signatures, if needed.
  • Don’t underestimate including recommendation letters. These letters can be crucial to your case. They should be in great detail and discuss your work and success. The people who write the recommendations should be recognized and reputable experts in your field, giving your whole application an extra boost.

Secure your O-1 visa with Relogate

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Nina

Relocation Expert

General Information

O-1 Visa Case Structure

Forms and official documents

First, you will need to provide the following forms:
  • Form I-129 - Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
  • Form G-28 - Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, which establishes the eligibility of your attorney or accredited representative to represent you.
  • Form G-1145 - e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, which will allow the US government to communicate with you and convey any approval via email or text.
Additionally, if you’re already in the US, you’ll need to file:
  • Form I-539 - Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, which allows you to extend your existing nonimmigrant status or change your existing nonimmigrant status.
Optionally, if you would like to have your case reviewed at the fastest processing speeds (in 15 days), then you’ll need to pay a premium processing fee of $2,805 and file:
  • Form I-907 - Request for Premium Processing Service, which allows you to take advantage of faster processing and speed up the whole process.
Official Documents:
  • Duty payment receipt forms.
  • Scans of your passport(s) and US visa(s), if any.
  • Scans of the passports of any accompanying family members, along with copies of their marriage/birth certificates.

Visa case documents

  • Cover letter that is drafted by an immigration attorney. This is the most important document for the O-1 visa case, as the immigration officer will first read it in full and make a decision based upon whether or not to continue. In this document, the immigration attorney states the client’s eligibility and provides excerpts, links, and quotes from the accompanying evidence documents to confirm every word and save the officer time from having to jump from page to page in the packet of 700+ pages of evidence for the O-1 petition. This cover letter can range from 20-100 pages, depending on the case.
  • Thorough evidence documents that confirm your eligibility for the O-1 visa. This can run anywhere from 700 to 3000 pages. For example, if you need to prove that you have a high salary for your field based on your experience, you’ll have to provide a letter from an expert in your field, a certificate from a salary comparison website, published statistics, articles about salary rates, and a translated tax report. So each piece of evidence that you provide requires many pages. Furthermore, we always show as much evidence as possible.
Family Reunification Rights
With the O-1 visa, you can bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the US. They can apply for O-3 nonimmigrant visas. Their visas will be issued for the same period that yours is. One notable difference though is that O-3 dependent visa holders do not have the right to work in the US. However, children have the right to go to public school.
Changing or Extending Your Visa
If you need to change your job while on the O-1 visa, you must file a new petition. Most often, all of your old files can be used for the new petition, and if you were already approved once, it's most likely that you will get a new O-1 visa.

If you wish to extend your stay and continue working at the same company, your employer or agent must file Form I-129 and provide a copy of your Form I-94 and a statement explaining the reason for your extension. This statement should describe the precise job that was the basis for your original approval and confirm that the extension is necessary for you to continue or complete the same activity. In addition to this, your family members must file Form I-539 to stay as well.
Switching from an O-1 Visa to an EB visa
If you want to settle in the US permanently, you might want to consider an O-1 visa first. It’s faster and easier than EB visas. However, once you have your O-1 talent visa, you can work on strengthening your case, adding new evidence, and then applying for an EB visa, either EB-1A or EB-2 NIW.

You can apply for a switch in your status by filing Form I-140 and Form I-485 once the I-140 is approved. You’ll have to include a dossier like before for the immigration officer to look over, but once your petition has been approved, it can take around 90 days to receive your green card.
Steps After Case Submission At The Embassy
After receiving your O-1 approval, you will either have to go to the US embassy or consulate in your place of residence to get a visa, or if you are already in the United States, you will have to apply for an adjustment of status.

Interview

If everything is all right and you are invited to the interview, remember to practice your answers in advance. You should be calm, collected, and confident.

Questions you will be asked at the interview

The questions are usually pretty straightforward, such as:
  • What is your name?
  • What company do you work for?
  • Have you ever been to the US before?
  • Where will you be living while in the US?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
  • How long have you been working in your field?
  • What are your extraordinary abilities that make you eligible for an O-1 talent visa?

Documents you might need at the embassy

  • Passports valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.
  • DS-160 confirmation page that confirms your embassy appointment.
  • Application fee payment receipt.
  • Visa photos (if requested on DS-160).
  • Copy of your approval notice.
  • Any official higher education diplomas you included in your case.
  • Resume.

NB!

In rare cases, the embassy may issue a refusal under section 221(g), this means that you did not establish eligibility for the visa. In this case, they may ask for you to provide some more documents, which you must do in a timely manner. This process is also called Administrative Processing.
Our trusted immigration attorneys will prepare you for the interview.
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We Can Help with Copywriting Documents for Your O-1 Visa Case
Relogate can prepare documents for your O-1 case if you already work with an immigration attorney or simply don’t have time to write them.
Full O-1 visa case preparation:
€3900
Prices for single documents are as follows:
Specific professional experience documents:
CV
€450
“Portfolio” pack: portfolios, compilation files, etc
€900 per piece
Letters of recommendation, intent, support, cover letter, etc:
1 letter – €275 per letter
(at least 3)
5 letters – €1200
10 letters – €2200
Explanatory notes describing media, reputation, etc:
1 note – €135 per note
(at least 3)
5 notes – €600
10 notes – €1000
Free consultation
Learn more
Everything about the EB-1 visa
Everything about the EB-2 NIW visa

FAQ

What is an O-1 visa to the USA?

The US O-1 talent visa is a non-immigrant visa which is suitable for people with extraordinary ability in arts, sports, science, business, film, etc.

Who can apply for an O-1 talent visa?

The range of professions is extensive - from software engineers, UX/UI designers, product managers, CEOs to founders, producers, investors, and dancers.

How long is the US O-1 visa valid for?

The O-1 talent visa is granted for up to 3 years, but you can extend it indefinitely.

What are the requirements of the US O-1 visa?

1. To be eligible for the US O-1 talent visa you need to show that you satisfy at least three the following criteria:
  • Awards
  • Membership in an association
  • Expert articles written by you 
  • Articles about you 
  • Major contribution to the field 
  • Critical or leading role in a company
  • High salary 
  • Judging 
2. You will also have to get an employer in the US who will sign the petition.

Can I bring my family to the US on an O-1 visa?

You can bring your spouse and your children under 21 years of age to the US on the O-1 visa. They will be given O-3 dependent visas.

Can I switch from an O-1 visa to a green card?

You can build up your O-1 case and apply for an EB-1 green card, or you can apply for an EB-2 NIW green card if your job is of national importance to the USA.

Do I have to apply for an O-1 visa inside the US?

You can apply for the O-1 visa from the US or your home country. 

Do I need an immigration attorney to apply for an O-1 visa? 

Yes, an immigration attorney is necessary if you want to amplify your chances of your O-1 visa application being approved. An immigration attorney will help you build the case strategy as well as provide you with legal advice.

Do I need to have PR done for the US O-1 visa? 

The more publicity you have, the higher your chances for your O-1 talent visa application being approved. 

Do I need an employer to apply for an O-1 visa to the US? 

To apply for the US O-1 visa you will need an employer in the USA or you can open your own company and file the petition on behalf of your company.

How do I get the O-1 talent visa?

You have to meet at least three out of 8 criteria to qualify for an O-1A visa for people with extraordinary ability in business, science, sports, or education OR at least three out of 6 criteria to qualify for an O-1B visa for people with extraordinary ability in arts, TV, or motion picture. 

What are the benefits of an O-1 visa?

  • There’s no limit for O-1 visas issued per year.
  • Your family can come with you to the US.
  • Flexible working arrangements.
  • You can convert your O-1 visa to a green card later on.
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