O-1 Status is a nonimmigrant status category for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts (including the television and motion picture industry), education, business, or athletics. This is an employment related status that allows qualified aliens to live and work in the United States.
O-1 visa allows foreign nations with extraordinary ability in one of the following three categories to enter into the U.S. and engage in official activity:
- Sciences, education, business, and athletics
- Motion picture or TV industries
O-1 Status is distinguished from other employment related statuses in that it applies to more types of work than other areas. For instance H-1B status is limited to professionals and cannot apply to athletes or entertainers as can O-1 status. Also, O-1 status could be obtained by those in H-1B status who have exhausted the full authorized stay.
Another important aspect of O-1 status is that it is a viable status to seek for aliens subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement of the J-1 exchange visitor program. Many persons who hold or have held J-1 or J-2 status are not permitted to obtain H or L visa status until they and/or the primary J-1 status holder has spent two years in his/her home country after the expiration of the J-1 status or a waiver of the two-year residency requirement is obtained. These individuals may obtain O status without fulfilling the two-year residency requirement or getting a waiver of the requirement. In such cases however, the alien may not change status to O-1 in the United States, but must obtain an O-1 visa either in the home country or a third county. An initial stay on O-1 is limited to no more than three years, provided the petition can establish that the O-1 alien will need this much time for the proposed employment. This period may be extended at one-year increments thereafter, upon evidence showing that the alien's continued presence would be required.
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