O, P VISA

Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement Visa (O)

1. Overview

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

2. The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:

  • O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • 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. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1
  • O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s

3. General Eligibility Criteria

  • To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
  • To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by 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.

Athlete/Entertainer Visa (P)

1. Overview

A P visa is a type of temporary employment visa of the United States, granted to alien athletes, artists, and entertainers, and their spouses and children.

2. P visa classifications are as follows:

  • P-1 applies to individual or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group (P-1B) that are internationally recognized. A maximum of 25,000 P visas are issued annually.
  • P-2 applies to artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program.
  • P-3 applies to artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is culturally unique.
  • P-4 is for the spouse, or child under the age of 21, of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien and who is accompanying, or following to join, the alien.

A sports team can file petition for its foreign athlete and for a P-1 visa to be granted to the team it must have achieved “international recognition” in the sport. An athlete who will come to the United States to compete in individual events rather than as a team must show that he or she is internationally recognized. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has defined “international recognition” as a “having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country.” The event the athlete is coming to the United States to participate in must have a distinguished reputation and must require the participation of athletes and teams of international recognition. The definition is similar to that of O-1B “extraordinary ability,” but somewhat more stringent. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members nor the acclaim of a particular production, is paramount.

Entertainers must be part of an entertainment group to obtain a P-1 visa. Individual artists cannot usually obtain a P-1 visa, except when joining the rest of their foreign entertainment group already in the United States. Like athletes, entertainers must be “internationally recognized” as outstanding in their area to be granted P visas, and have a sustained period of achievement no less than one year. Additionally, a minimum for 75 percent of the group’s individual members must have a substantial relationship to the group, generally satisfied by at least one year of membership.