Originally created for world-class athletes and exceptional performers, the O-1 visa is now also used by entrepreneurs whose ideas get funded; scientists working on research and development; software engineers creating the next generation of technology; and by many other professionals.
O-1A visas are for extraordinary achievers in sciences, education, business, and athletics. O-1B visas are for people in the arts, motion picture or television industry. If an athlete or performer holds the O-1 visa, their team can enter the US to support them on O-2 visas.
In 1990, the O-1 visa was created to attract the best and the brightest in their fields to the US. From approximately 3,000 O-1 visas issued in FY 1997, the number has increased to over 13,000 in FY 2015. Each year, the number of O-1 visas being approved is rising as more and more exceptional people relocate to the US. This makes O-1 the visa of choice for accomplished individuals to move seamlessly to work in the US.
To prove that a person qualifies for an O-1 visa, the applicant has either won a top international award (like the Nobel prize) or must meet 3 out of this list of 10 criteria:
Since the USCIS is not a judge of what is considered “extraordinary”, they expect at least 3 letters of recommendation from the applicant’s peers. The peers must themselves be extraordinary in their field and must know the applicant’s work well.
The USCIS looks at all the documents submitted together to see if the applicant has risen to the “top of their field”. The sponsoring employer must also confirm that they are offering a job to the applicant in their field of expertise.
While the list looks daunting, we have helped many clients document their accomplishments to successfully receive O-1 visas.
O-1 visas are filed by employers or agents with the USCIS on behalf of the O-1 visa holder. Once approved, the applicant goes to the consulate to get the visa issued. If they are already in the US, they request a change of status to start work.
Proving that our clients’ qualifications rise to the level of a Nobel prize is a tough standard to meet. Out of 7 billion people on the planet, only 7 people win the Nobel prize each year. And we still don’t have a Nobel prize for business leaders and visionaries. While many of O-1 visas are filed for scientists, a growing number are now filed for business leaders and technology creators.
Starting in the 1970s, more of the truly exceptional people who apply for an O-1 visa each year are in the fields of science and Information Technology. They are working on technologies that did not exist 10 years ago. Sometimes, the field itself is so new, that there is no association or membership that requires its members to be at the top of their field. All of this makes proving that our client is truly extraordinary a creative task.
Located in the Northeastern United States, we are geographically close to a host of world class universities, research laboratories and hospitals. We routinely work with their students, entrepreneurs and researchers who qualify for O-1 visas. Our clients are also members of teams that are creating innovative solutions, but they themselves may have just started working and are junior team members. Some are recent Ph.D. graduates or master’s degree holders who do not have proven track records yet.
We help by screening your current work track to determine if an O-1 is the best choice for you. And if a O-1 is your best choice, we help you obtain the O-1 visa. If you do not qualify for a O-1 at the time of the consultation, our attorneys guide you on how you should bolster your professional profiles so you will qualify for a O-1 visa later. We do this through lengthy, in-depth discussions with you to identify the criteria in your profile that makes you truly unique, and your professional contributions extraordinary and help you identify what you can do to achieve more recognition in your field.
We believe in filing successful petitions. And we strongly believe that it only takes an interested attorney, with the willingness to go the extra mile, to get your O-1 approved.
Above, we have described some of the common considerations while filing for a O-1 visa. As attorneys, we believe in helping our clients succeed. It is our privilege to help you live and work in the US.
Please contact us to discuss how we can make the O-1 visa process easy for you.
Attorney Gupta is absolutely terrific for O-1A visas! She is truly an expert. She works with great attention to details, builds the case from every piece of evidence that can be possibly used, and is available to discuss the details and for planning at each step.
She got my O-1A approved in record time. She is the attorney you need on your side.
Anu Gupta handled my O1A application although multiple attorneys refused my case since I did not have a Ph.D. which is a common education level amongst accepted applications. I was at that time on a J1 research scholar visa as a research assistant (my work title was not helpful for my O application either) and I needed to change my J-1 visa before my status expired....
She was very clear about my chances and what I should expect from the get-go. She told me that regardless of my qualifications/merits I should expect a “request-for-evidence” (RFE) from USCIS. She made sure that there was a rough plan ahead of time in handling such a situation. Her statements were generally measured, and she was always careful during conversations to not give false hopes/promises, which I consider to be a highly valuable trait for any attorney.
Sometimes, even with the best-drawn plans, life has a way of throwing its own curveball to complicate everything. In my case, although we planned on submitting my application much earlier than the J1 status expiration in 2020, the COVID pandemic led to numerous delays in the process. However, we did manage to file before the J1 expiry but as she originally expected, an RFE was issued and in the meanwhile, my J1 expired preventing me from continuing work.
The RFE was, from my perspective, a tough ask. USCIS had rejected all my claims and raised questions on every piece of evidence that we had originally submitted. Anu made sure that we address all of their requests in a comprehensive manner. It should also be mentioned at this point that, that year was an election year (Trump-Biden 2020) and the presidential election was right around the corner. Both my employer and I were happy with the response Anu and her team had prepared and were confident that the application should be approved given its strength and thoroughness in both satisfying the requirements and in addressing the concerns raised by USCIS.
However, USCIS reviewed my application along with an RFE response and rejected my case on the morning after election night through fax at 6:59 AM. I was devastated. What affected me the most was that although my achievements qualified me for an O1A, USCIS refused to recognize it.
I had lost all hope and desire of continuing my work and life in the US. In the first conversation after my rejection with Anu, she spoke to me with passion for how I deserve the O1A and strongly urged me to apply once more. She made sure that didn’t have to leave the country (due to the COVID pandemic returning even with an approved application was very hard).
For me, it was here that Anu Gupta’s greatest quality as both a person and an attorney was highlighted. There are many professional and talented attorneys, which she is, but finding someone who actually cares about their clients and is willing to fight for them with conviction is difficult. Someone willing to fight for you even when going gets tough- even when you lose the strength to continue fighting. In that sense, Anu Gupta is a rare find.
Eventually (approximately a month from the second filing), my second application was approved without difficulty.
The choice of attorney can make or break any case and the choice of Anu Gupta for your immigration needs is one of the easiest recommendations that I can ever make."
I worked with Immigration Desk - Attorney Anu's office to respond to the O-1 A - NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny) petition for my O-1 visa. I came to her after my previous attorney delayed the RFE response by five months and wasn't committing to submitting my response for NOID within the stipulated timeline.
Attorney Anu took up the challenge and wrote a very persuasive and thorough response within three weeks. I am very impressed with her knowledge of immigration laws and her approach to a very complex issue for my O-1 A NOID....
She always answered calls and responded to emails swiftly, unlike other lawyers in the past I've worked with who will take you for granted once you have signed the service contract. In the past, I've worked with four lawyers recommended by my school - the MIT International Student office. Right from the first call, she was polite and responsive. She took time to explain her approach and was flexible when I asked to take a slightly different approach when my potential employer asked.
Attorney Anu and Ian come with my highest recommendations. I hope to work with her on my green card application and O-1 transfers once this is behind us.
If you have a chance to work with her, please do without any hesitation and know that you are in excellent hands. While most law firms paint a very pessimistic approach to immigration issues, she sets the tone with a very positive and outlook and continues with the same mindset throughout out. Unlike most other law firms I had worked with in the past – Attorney Anu and Ian won't keep you waiting or not answer your emails, or worst take the maximum time they can use as per law to your petition.
I was fortunate to have found her, and I wish I had met her sooner and had not lost a lot of time. Based on my experience with her and Ian, I recommended her to the MIT SF MBA program and MIT International Student offices.
Anu is one of the best immigration lawyers I have worked with in the past 6 years of being in USA. She is extremely approachable, listens patiently and answers any number of questions you might have.
Good lawyers are expensive and so is she but then she is worth every dime spent just for the way she gets things done.
I look forward to working with her again in the future.