Who are the 'Extraordinaries?'

September 6, 2018

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“‘Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement?’” Sounds a bit like you may have wondered into an X-Men convention. Fear not. What you have discovered is the O-1 nonimmigrant visa for “individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.” If you are a nonimmigrant who has any interest in working in the United States and are dreaming of becoming the next Rihanna or Justin Bieber, you may just want to read on to learn more about the O-1 nonimmigrant visa.

 

The O-1 work permit for nonimmigrants has created a pipeline for diverse artists and creative persons to work in the United States. Known for being the bi-coastal mecca for creative types, it’s not surprising that a majority, about 63%, of these persons end up working in New York and California. Alexia Fernández Campbell, The Visa for People Officially Deemed ‘Extraordinary,’ The Atlantic, July 27, 2016 (citing, Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbook of Immigrant Statistics).

 

Notwithstanding his non-Bieliebers, Justin Bieber’s international success in the entertainment business helped to propel him to the head of the lines for his O-1 visa.  Navarrette Jr., Ruben, Revoke Bieber’s Visa, The New York Times, January 13, 2015, The Opinion Pages.  You see, in order to get an O-1 Visa, you must possess--in addition to a good immigration attorney--the extraordinary achievement the likes seen in Justin Bieber. Let’s sort through the criteria, which are themselves extraordinarily complicated.

 

For starters, the O nonimmigrant visa isn’t limited just to pop stars. Indeed, the O nonimmigrant visa covers four classifications, each requiring demonstration of “extraordinary ability.”

 

  • O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics

  • O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry

  • O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.  

  • O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s

In order to qualify for the first category, the O-1A visa, the person must belong to an impressively rare group indeed, those who can demonstrate “extraordinary ability,” which in this category speaks to their level of “expertise” in their field. They must belong to that “the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”

 

Somewhat similarly, for purpose of the O-1B, the individual may satisfy the requirements for this visa if he or she can demonstrate “extraordinary ability” based on evidence of a “degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the fields of art.”

 

Also a O-1B visa situation, the celebrity may demonstrate an “extraordinary ability” in motion picture or television if the celebrity evidences a “degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.”

So, once you have determined you can demonstrate this “extraordinary ability,” what comes next is the application for the O-1 Visa. Easy enough, right? Well, in completing the application, you will be required to provide documentary evidence. For example, for an O-1B visa, it must be accompanied by a “written advisory opinion from a peer group . . . “or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.”

 

Again, this is where the assistance of a good immigration attorney becomes incredibly crucial to the process. An attorney can help you to identify the appropriate peer group or the expert on your behalf or help you sort through the list of other potential documentary evidence that might be available to you.

 

Working in the arts, motion pictures and television industry is a lifelong dream for many. For foreigners looking to do so here in the United States, the dream is particularly impressive. It certainly comes with more obstacles, which can seem insurmountable without the right advisor to guide you through the twists and turns.




*These posts are presented for entertainment purposes and are not intended to provide legal avice. Consult with a lawyer for legal advice.

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