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Should I apply for an O-1A or O-1B visa?

By February 24, 2023Immigration
A professor shaking hands with an exceptional student

The O-1 visa category is for individuals of extraordinary ability. The O-1A category is for people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics and the O-1B category is for people with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

For some applicants it will be obvious which category to choose, however, there are also applicants in less traditional fields where it may be possible to classify the visa under O-1A or O-1B. For example, in the case of a tattoo artist or a sake brewer, these applicants could potentially be categorized in either business or the arts.

Benefits of the O-1B

Generally, if there is an option to choose between filing under the O-1A or O-1B category it is beneficial to select O-1B, as the standard of proof for the O-1B can be easier to meet than O-1A.

For an O-1A petition, extraordinary ability means that the applicant must show they are one of a small percentage of people who have achieved expertise and are working in the top of their field. For an O-1B petition in the arts, extraordinary ability means proving that the applicant has achieved distinction, which means the applicant has skill and recognition in the field that is substantially above what is ordinarily encountered and is renowned or well-known in their field.

Another benefit of the O-1B is that artists and entertainers have the ability to add additional performances or engagements while in the U.S. without having to file an amended petition. This can be very helpful as it allows the foreign national to accept additional work within their area of expertise without having to spend additional time and money preparing an amended petition to add in a new employment opportunity.

Deciding which category to apply for is an important strategy decision that the applicant should make in consultation with an immigration attorney.

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