Successfully Obtain Your O-1 Visa:
How We Can Help...
Whether you are an artist, entertainer, athlete, educator, scientist, business person or any other person of "extraordinary ability" (**see definition in Q & A below), we understand how important an O-1 Visa is to you, your agent, your employer, your clients, and/or other relevant parties. A successful outcome will have a profound impact on not just your career but all individuals and entities with whom you work with and come in contact with. O-1 Visa applications, whether they are new O-1 visas or an O-1 transfer or O-1 extension, do require careful attention and strong communication -- but with both in place, the process is often more simple, and more stress free than many of our clients expect.
With our experience, the process is step-by-step. We listen. We address your concerns. We get to know your field. We help you gather the required information and documentation. And then we carefully prepare your application in order to successfully obtain your O-1 Visa. We'll communicate with you throughout the process, your agent and/or employer, and any other relevant parties, such as recommenders and/or other professionals and experts.
Our O-1 attorney experience benefits you in several key areas. We:
At Lightman Law Firm, your success is our success. You'll know it from the first communication through the completion of your case.
Questions? Concerns? We can help. We'll explain the visa O-1 process and time frame, and outline items you'll need to prepare... and what you can expect.
Contact us directly at:
Who is this category set aside for and what is the general standard? The O-1 Visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, athletics, movies, or television. To meet the standards of this visa you must show that you have extraordinary ability (the definition depends on the sub-category you fall within) and that you have received sustained national or international acclaim.
How do you prove extraordinary ability for a scientist, educator, business person, or athlete (O-1A)? Proving extraordinary ability for a scientist, educator, business person, or athlete is generally more rigorous than it is for artists. For this category you want to be able to show that the individual has obtained "a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavour." Extraordinary ability here is shown by providing evidence either of the foreign national's receipt of a "major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize", or documentation of at least 3 of the following:
Is there a separate sub-category for individuals in motion picture or TV production? Yes, these individuals are technically in the "O-1B" category and they must have "a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement" that can be evidenced through extensive documentation. "Extraordinary achievement" here means a "very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or TV industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered". The criteria used to judge whether or not an individual meets the requirements is the same as that used for the arts, except the standard is thought to be slightly higher.
What if the above criteria does not apply for the different categories? If the above criteria does not clearly apply to your case, you can use "comparable evidence". It should be noted that there is some flexibility with the O-1 through creative advocacy. You should not let the term "extraordinary ability" scare you away.
I’ve heard that I’ll need recommendation letters for my O-1 application. What’s this all about? Recommendation letters play an important role in the O-1 application. They prove that you have, in the government’s words, “Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which you are engaged.” According to the USCIS, these letters should “clearly indicate the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of your achievements.” This video will help you understand fully what that means, and how an effective recommendation letter should ultimately look.
Who should you ask to be a recommender? The recommenders can be from anywhere in the world – they do not need to be from or in the United States. They also do not need to be working directly in your field. They should, however, be qualified to testify to your extraordinary ability through their work in a related field or through their in-depth knowledge of your work and career. Former or current clients, bosses, collaborators, peers, curators, friends – all of these are excellent recommenders. It is generally a good idea to restrict the number of teachers or professors to 1 or 2, though; the government is more interested in your professional experience than your education.
How many letters should you get? Though there is no official requirement for how many letters to include in an O-1 application, we recommend acquiring 6 to 10 letters. Rule of thumb: the quality of the content is more important than the quantity of letters.
***For a better idea of what a recommendation for an O-1 visa might look like, please watch the following VIDEO (see the last page for a sampleletter): .
How should the final letters be presented? The letters should be printed on letterhead, dated, and signed by the recommender. They do not need to have original signatures – photocopies and scans of the originals are fine. It helps to submit a resume, “about page” printout, or bio for each recommender corresponding with their letter.
How long does it take to prepare an O-1 application? The most time consuming part of any O-1 visa application is collecting all of the required supporting material and putting together the application. Due to the complex nature of an O-1, material must often be collected from many different sources, such as magazines, online references, third parties, individuals writing recommendation letters, professional organizations, and other similar sources. It can often take weeks to several months to properly put together an O-1 application.
How long does it take to take to receive a response from USCIS after submitting an O-1 petition? The wait-time trends over the years to receive a response on an O-1 petition have fluctuated, but currently, in the year 2013, we are seeing USCIS respond as soon as 2-4 weeks after submission of an O-1 petition, which is quite fast for any visa petition. If you want a guarantee of a quick response from USCIS, you may file your petition via premium processing for a 15 calendar day turnaround. However, premium processing entails an additional filing fee of $1225. It’s important to note that a “response” is not always an approval, as it could be a request for more evidence in connection with the petition.
Who can sponsor an O-1? An O-1 sponsor can take a variety of forms: a United States-based employer, a United States-based agent, a United States-based agent-as-employer, or a foreign employer through a United States agent. In all cases, the sponsor should have some sort of connection to your field of endeavor.
What if I won't be classically employed by a company or organization, but rather I will work with an agent? In this scenario you will definitely need an itinerary detailing the the nature of the events that you will be engaged in over the period of time that you are seeking the O-1 approval. Furthermore, the O-1 agent must provide a contractual agreement between the agent and the foreign national which specifies the wage offered and the other terms and conditions of employment.
Can I petition for myself? No, an O-1 visa must be submitted by an agent or employer on behalf of the extraordinary ability individual. A foreign national cannot self-petition himself or herself for the visa.
What are the O-1 services that your law firm provides in connection with the preparation of an O-1 visa application? As each O-1 case is unique, so is its preparation. Nonetheless, in general terms, our services will include the following for most O-1 filings:
I don't live in New York. Can you still work with me? Absolutely. We work with foreign nationals and employers from all across the United States and throughout the world. Whether we meet in person, over the phone, or using the internet, our strong communication will be an asset to your case.
What are the filing fees? The O-1 visa petition fee is $325. Premium processing, which is optional, entails an additional filing fee of $1,225. The legal fee depends on the nature of the case and can only be quoted after discussing the matter over the phone or in person.
Who can pay the fees? Either the foreign applicant or the agent or employer can pay the fees.What are the O-1 Visa Lawyer legal fees for representation? Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss our fees with you. Rest easy, Lightman Law Firm prides itself in offering the highest level of service at an affordable FLAT rate. You will never experience any pressure or obligation to work with us.
Put our O-1 Visa Attorney experience to work for you.
Why Lightman Law Firm?
- Honest & Professional
- Affordable Flat Fees
- Open Communication
- Attention to Detail
- Quick Processing
- Experienced Representation
- We Care About Our Clients!
Did you know?
Douglas M. Lightman, the principal and founding lawyer of Lightman Law Firm, is a proud member of the Bar of the State of New York and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
In addition, Mr. Lightman, has been listed as an immigration lawyer on the websites of both the British Consulate General at New York and the Consulate General of Canada in New York.
For more information about the firm and Mr. Lightman, please see: ABOUT US.