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Can I start my Own Business and Petition for an O-1 Visa?

By February 28, 2018May 20th, 2021Extraordinary Ability, Immigration
Image courtesy of WikiCommons, labeled for reuse, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Southern_Arkansas_University_Biology_student_with_microscope.jpg

An O-1 Visa is a visa that allows individuals with extraordinary ability to come to the U.S. in a number of different fields. The O-1A visa is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics, and is set aside for people who have risen to the top of their profession. For more information about the O-1A visa, please click here. The O-1B visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, and is set aside for those who have achieved distinction in their field. For more information about the O-1B visa, please click here.

In most cases O-1 visas are filed by an employer, as federal regulations do not allow for O aliens to petition for themselves. However, the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) was amended in September 2016 to allow for a legal entity owned by an alien to file an O-1 petition on his/her behalf.

This amended FAM guidance opens new doors for O-1 visa applicants, who may use legal entities that they own as their agent petitioners, as long as they can satisfy the fundamental requirements of the O-1, which may be referenced here.

In short, the FAM guidance specifically allows an O-1 visa applicant to “self-petition” vis-à-vis an entity wholly owned by him or her for work to be performed in the U.S. for other employers, then take on any additional O-1 caliber engagements in the U.S. (that may arise during the validity period of their O-1 status) without having to file a new or amended O-1 petition.

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