O-1 and P-3 Visas: Options for Artists & Entertainers

July 24, 2021

Are you an exceptionally talented artist, performer, athlete, academic, or entertainer? Are you looking to continue your craft in the United States temporarily? If so, you might qualify for an O-1 or P-3 visa. What is an O-1 Visa? The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is a short-term work visa for those who possess extraordinary skills in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or television industry. O visas are granted for a particular length of time, up to a maximum of three years, with unlimited extensions in one-year increments. A spouse and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one may accompany the O visa holder as long as they do not accept employment in the United States. The good news: there are no annual caps on the number of individuals receiving O visas. O-1 Visa Qualification Criteria A job offer from a U.S. employer is a basic requirement for the O visa. Alternatively, a U.S. agent may file an O-1 petition for a worker who is traditionally self-employed or uses agents to arrange short-term employment with multiple employers.  In either event, an O-1 applicant cannot self-petition. The applicant must also demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, or a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry, and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. O-1 visas are given only on the basis of a person's individual qualifications. Being a member of a group or team will not, by itself, qualify someone for an O-1 visa. What is “Extraordinary Ability” as it Pertains to O-1 Visas? Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the applicant is at the very top of the field. This can be demonstrated if the applicant has received a major internationally recognized award, such as an Olympic medal or a Pulitzer Prize, or has accomplished at least three specific criteria—see the full list of criteria here. Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts. This is evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that you are prominent, renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts. The applicant will need to supply documents showing that he or she has been nominated for or have received significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Director's Guild Award. Alternatively, the employer filing the petition can submit at least three forms of documentation. See the full list of accepted documentation here.

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