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Table of Contents

What are the eligibility criteria for an O-1B visa?

Notable examples of O-1B visa recipients

How does the O-1B visa process work?

What type of evidence is required for an O-1B visa?

How long can someone stay in the US on an O-1B visa?

What are the benefits of the O-1B visa for businesses?

Can an O-1B visa holder work for multiple employers?

What is the role of the O-1B visa in an HR context?

Are there legal or compliance issues with an O-1B visa?

How can an employer sponsor someone for an O-1B visa?

What strategies improve the success rate of O-1B visa petitions?

Are there country-specific limitations of an O-1B visa?

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

What is the O-1B visa

The O-1B visa, one of several US immigration pathways, was designed specifically for individuals exhibiting extraordinary ability in the arts or notable achievements in the motion picture and television industries. This category celebrates national or international acclaim and allows artists to bring their unique talents to the United States, enriching its cultural landscape.

This is an immigration visa category related to the O-1A visa and operates in largely the same way. Applicants must show that they constitute notable talent within their creative field, which is separately recognized because it operates very differently from other professions.

The O-1B visa caters to artists and entertainers who have risen to the top of their field, offering them an opportunity to work on specific projects in the US When contracted to a particular production or role, actors, artists, and musicians are, by their very nature, irreplaceable.

If you’re a promoter hoping to bring Elton John over for a Las Vegas residency, there’s only one individual who will fulfill that remit. The O-1B visa makes engaging such a notable and unique creative possible.

Whether it’s major parts in films, critical roles in theatre productions, or exhibitions of fine art, the O-1B visa is the bridge connecting global talent to American audiences.

What are the eligibility criteria for an O-1B visa?

Eligibility for the O-1B visa hinges, in the words of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), on “a high level of achievement in the field of arts, as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.”

By “arts” the USCIS includes film and television arts. The evidence the USCIS typically accepts can include:

  • Internationally recognized prizes or awards: Oscars, Grammys, or similar honors
  • Recognition for achievements through major media: Features in major trade publications or other major media
  • Judge of the work of others: Participation as a judge in panels or competitions related to their field
  • Critical roles in distinguished organizations: Leading roles in establishments that have a distinguished reputation
  • Commercial successes in the television or motion picture industries: Key roles in commercially successful projects
  • Significant recognition from organizations, critics, or experts: Endorsements from recognized experts within the peer group
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field: Contributions to major publications relevant to their art. This could allow, for instance, a Dutch Rembrandt expert to work in a US museum

💡 Need to check a candidate’s visa eligibility before creating an employment contract? With Deel’s Immigration platform, you can run a visa eligibility check in seconds. Alternatively, schedule a call with a Deel Immigration expert to establish the best visa route for you or a potential new hire

Notable examples of O-1B visa recipients

To illustrate who might be eligible for this visa class, here are some notable past recipients and their country of citizenship:

  • Ryan Gosling (Canadian) – Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor
  • Hana Nitsche (German) – supermodel who has featured on the cover of Harper’s,
  • Esquire, and Maxim and modelled for Tommy Hilfiger, Wella, and L’Oreal
  • Iggy Azalea (Australian) – musician, with awards from Billboard and MTV and four Grammy nominations
  • Hyesu Lee (South Korean) – comic artist, with a history of publications and shows

Lee applied for her O-1B visa while in the US on an M1 student visa. This is a helpful route for creatives who are still establishing themselves but have attained a degree of notability while creating and working within the US under F or M category visas.

How does the O-1B visa process work?

The O-1B visa application process involves several steps:

  1. The US employer or agent (petitioner) must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. The petitioner must provide substantial evidence of the beneficiary’s extraordinary ability or achievement.
  3. The petitioner must include a written advisory opinion from a peer group or labor organization. For example, this testimonial could be provided by a fellow artist, producer, gallery owner, or theatre director.
  4. The beneficiary may also need to attend an interview at a US embassy or consulate.
  5. Upon approval, the beneficiary can apply online for the O-1B visa to enter the United States.

💡 With Deel Immigration, the O1-B visa application process is seamless. Deel’s legal team and attorneys will handle all the paperwork, facilitate consular visa stamping, and provide dedicated one-on-one support for the applicant and any accompanying family members.

See also: Enterprise Employee Visa: Your Essential Application Guide

What type of evidence is required for an O-1B visa?

To demonstrate extraordinary ability for an O-1B visa, the applicant must provide written or online evidence such as:

  • Awards or prizes of national or international significance
  • Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements
  • Published material about the applicant in professional or major media
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes
  • Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other accepted experts in the field

Documentation of this evidence should be gathered for presentation at a visa interview at the applicant’s US embassy or consulate.

💡 With Deel Immigration, preparing evidence is easy. Deel will onboard the applicant onto the user-friendly platform. They’ll be assigned a case manager and asked to provide their personal details and upload any supporting documentation to the platform. Depending on the visa type, this can include a passport, petitioner documents, such as articles of incorporation, and visa-specific documents like funding, press coverage, and a business plan.

How long can someone stay in the US on an O-1B visa?

An individual can initially stay in the US for up to three years on an O-1B visa, based on the time necessary to complete the event, activity, or performance. Extensions may be granted in one-year increments for the same event or activity.

💡To ensure the applicant and their family maintain legal status in the US, Deel Immigration provides timely reminders and alerts for upcoming visa renewal or extension deadlines. Additionally, we can handle all future applications for the visa holder, including continued support to becoming a US citizen via the green card route for permanent residence.

See also: Easy Visa Renewal: 4 Steps for Enterprise Workforce

What are the benefits of the O-1B visa for businesses?

The O1-B visa allows the creative industries to attract top-tier and unique talent, which conveys a range of advantages.

Creative organizations and businesses benefit from the O-1B visa in several ways. Firstly, they can access a global pool of talented professionals with unique skills that may not be readily available domestically.

Secondly, they can enhance their product offerings and creative projects by incorporating diverse and specialized expertise. The film industry depends upon casting notable stars in expensive projects that would be unviable without such box office talent.

Lastly, creative businesses may increase their competitive edge by employing internationally recognized individuals. Concert halls may receive government arts funding, but they also need to host visiting international music stars to remain competitive.

See also: A Guide to Finding Global Talent

Can an O-1B visa holder work for multiple employers?

Yes, an O-1B visa holder can work for multiple employers (such as when a celebrated orchestral conductor moves from one orchestra to another). However, each employer must file a separate Form I-129 petition with USCIS.

The visa holder cannot commence work for a new employer until the petition is approved. This makes it vital for an applicant to begin the renewal application process as soon as they believe their employer may change.

What is the role of the O-1B visa in an HR context?

The O-1B visa is critical in global hiring by enabling US companies to recruit top-tier talent from around the world. The visa supports cultural exchange and the infusion of innovative ideas and perspectives, which can drive innovation and growth.

Whereas the O-1A visa requires at least three specific criteria to be fulfilled in determining an applicant’s eligibility, the O-1B visa allows for more flexibility. This is understandable when you consider the vast spectrum of success that a notable artist or star might exhibit.

Award-winning musicians, for instance, might be household names to only a few thousand individuals, while supermodels or Hollywood stars could be instantly recognizable to millions. It is, therefore, hard to predict in advance whether an O-1B visa will be granted.

However, since 2019, at least 90% of O1 visa applications (following I-129 petition approval) have succeeded. Producing as complete a portfolio of evidence as possible significantly increases the chances of success.

“I’ve never come across a team that moves so quickly, responds to questions in almost real-time and yet is so detail-oriented. After working with them, I wouldn’t consider working with anyone else for my immigration needs. They’re simply spectacular.” —Mohak Nahta, Founder and CEO, Atlys

Legal and compliance considerations associated with the O-1B visa may include:

  • Ensuring the accuracy and authenticity of all documentation submitted
  • Maintaining the terms of employment as stated in the petition
  • Adhering to wage requirements to avoid underpayment claims
  • Compliance with changes in immigration laws and policies

Sponsoring employers must be vigilant to avoid penalties and ensure the visa holder’s status remains valid.

“Deel gives us access to hiring people in a compliant way, anywhere. Those are people that we wouldn’t have been able to hire without Deel, as we wouldn’t be able to open an entity in every country where we wanted to hire someone. It also enables us to be close to our customers, they are all over the world, so we need to be there too. ”—Sanna Westman, Head of People at Planhat

To sponsor someone for an O-1B visa, an employer must:

  • Establish a bona fide job offer that requires the unique skills of the beneficiary
  • File Form I-129 with USCIS, including all required evidence and the advisory opinion
  • Pay the necessary filing fees and, if expedited processing is desired, the premium processing fee
  • Upon petition approval, assist the beneficiary with the visa application at a US embassy or consulate

Note: while a standard application may take several months to assess, premium processing will take place within 15 days, provided the appropriate fee has been paid.

💡 Deel’s EOR visa sponsorship service provides a simple and accelerated solution to visa sponsorship. Businesses can hire and relocate employees and their dependents to the US without opening a local entity for a streamlined and hands-off visa procurement process.

What strategies improve the success rate of O-1B visa petitions?

Immigration lawyers and HR departments can improve the success rate of O-1B visa petitions in a range of ways.

They should begin by carefully reviewing the criteria and gathering comprehensive evidence of the candidate’s extraordinary ability. Next, the applicant should consult with immigration attorneys to ensure the petition is prepared accurately.

Together, the applicant and petitioner must provide detailed documentation of the job offer and its requirements. The petitioner should also prepare the beneficiary for potential interviews and provide support throughout the application process.

💡 Deel Immigration is the leading US immigration provider. With more than a 90% approval rate, their team of in-house immigration experts is ready to fast-track your visa application so you can move to the US and start your next adventure.

Are there country-specific limitations of an O-1B visa?

While the O-1B visa is not limited to specific countries, applicants must be aware of:

  • The reciprocity schedule, which can affect visa fees and validity periods
  • Country-specific US consulate or embassy procedures and wait times
  • Political relations that may impact the processing of visas
  • Any travel bans or restrictions that could affect entry into the US

Applicants should check the latest information for their specific country when applying for an O-1B visa.

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

Deel Immigration is transforming the immigration process, offering candidates a premier experience that blends cutting-edge technology with human touch, ensuring a transparent and smooth immigration journey.

Deel’s user-friendly platform offers self-serve functionality, an application status timeline, real-time status updates, access to a dedicated case manager, and exclusive relocation services, keeping you well-informed and supported at every turn.

Connect with the Deel immigration team today to expedite your visa process and kickstart your US adventure.

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