The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant employment-based visa classification for foreign nationals who can demonstrate the sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the science, education, business or athletics.
The O-1 nonimmigrant category is reserved for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated records of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
The O-2 nonimmigrant category extends to aliens coming to the United States solely to accompany or assist an O-1 performer or athlete.
The O-3 nonimmigrant classification includes the alien spouse or alien children of an O-1 or O-2 nonimmigrant.
To qualify for O-1 classification, and therefore to support classification of O-2 and O-3 accompanying aliens, the O-1 alien must be coming to the United States (US) to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement. The O-1 nonimmigrant may be admitted even if the work to be performed in the United States does not require a person of extraordinary ability or achievement. For example, an operatic diva may come to the US to sing in the opera chorus for a community opera).
The O-2 classification is for aliens who perform essential support to an O-1 artist or athlete only. O-2 aliens may not accompany O-1 aliens in the fields of science, business, or education. O-2 classification prohibits an alien from working in the US separate and apart from the O-1 principal. To qualify for classification as an alien who will accompany or assist an O-1 alien, the petition must demonstrate the following:
- The O-2 alien has an integral role in the O-1’s performance, i.e., provides direct support to the O-1 principal, and
- Has critical skills and experience with the O-1 alien that provides continuity to the performance, engagement, or production of the O-1 principal, is not general, and could not be performed by one or more US workers.