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I am an individual with extraordinary ability in the sciences or business. I applied for an O1A visa through an agent. I received a new employment offer after I came to the US. Can I work for this new employer under my current O1A visa?

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O1 visa beneficiaries have the ability to have a U.S. agent file the visa petition on behalf of them. An agent doesn’t need to be the entity that ends up employing the O1 visa holder, and it can be anyone with whom the beneficiary signs an agent agreement – it can be a professor or friend who is a U.S. person. This can give O1 beneficiaries considerable flexibility in pursuing non-traditional work arrangements.

This also means O1 beneficiaries may also be approved to provide services to multiple employers at a time. This can either by achieved by separate O1 petitions being filed by multiple employers, or filing one O1 petition through an agent while including statements from other employers authorizing the agent to file the petition on their behalf.

An important part of applying for an O1 visa through an agent is preparing and submitting an itinerary of events, which would include an timeline and overview of all the services the O1 beneficiary will be providing to each prospective employer once the beneficiary enters the United States. Importantly, the O1 agent-petitioner will also submit copies of contracts between the agent and each employer where the employer authorizes the agent to act in its behalf s the petitioner.

Let’s consider a case where an O1A beneficiary submitted such a petition based on proposed work for employer A and B through an agent and was approved for the visa. An interesting question arises if and when the O1A beneficiary enters the United States, and receives a job offer from a new company, employer C. Can the O1A beneficiary accept employment with employer C under their current O1A visa, even though this work arrangement was not disclosed in the initial O1 petition?

The answer to this is No. Because the work arrangement with Employer C was not disclosed in the initial O1A petition and no contract was submitted by Employer C authorizing the previous agent to act on their behalf, the current O1A visa does not allow the O1A beneficiary to simply “add on” the new employer C. However, the new employer C can file a new O1A petition, or the O1A beneficiary’s existing agent can file an amended petition to add the work arrangement with employer C. In this process, the agent will also obtain and submit formal authorization by Employer C to act on their behalf.

Interestingly, O1B beneficiaries – individuals who are artists or entertainers – are allowed to add additional performances or engagements during the validity of the O1B petition without needing to file a new (amended) O1B petition.

In sum, the O1 visa category has many nuances and complications with respect to compliance. The O1 is a great visa category that does not require a lottery, does not have an annual quota, is extendable indefinitely as long as there are new events and continuing demand for the beneficiary’s work, and can be a quick and streamlined way for individuals of extraordinary abilities to enter the U.S. to engage in a variety of projects in their fields. To ensure you are managing this opportunity the right way, the advice and assistance of experienced counsel is crucial.

Related posts:

New guidance on O1 visa classification

O1 visa recent trends

O1 visa application process

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This website and blog constitutes attorney advertising. Do not consider anything in this website or blog legal advice and nothing in this website constitutes an attorney-client relationship being formed. Set up a one-hour consultation with us before acting on anything you read here. Past results are no guarantee of future results and prior results do not imply or predict future results. Each case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

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