O Visa

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A type O visa is a non-immigrant visa for foreign workers who wish to remain in the United States to work temporarily. It is given to those who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or extraordinary achievements in the motion picture and television field. The worker must have earned an internationally recognized award or have other qualifications such as commanding a high salary or providing significant contributions to their field. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services also recognizes subtypes of the O visa for individuals who assist a foreign worker with extraordinary ability (O-2) and for the spouse and children of the foreign worker (O-3).

The term O visa originates from 8 USC §1101 which provides definitions immigration and nationality laws, with subsection O stating:

“an alien who—

  • has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim or, with regard to motion picture and television productions a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement, and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation, and seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability; or
  • seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of accompanying and assisting in the artistic or athletic performance by an alien who is admitted under clause (i) for a specific event or events,
    • is an integral part of such actual performance,
      • has critical skills and experience with such alien which are not of a general nature and which cannot be performed by other individuals, or
      • in the case of a motion picture or television production, has skills and experience with such alien which are not of a general nature and which are critical either based on a pre-existing longstanding working relationship or, with respect to the specific production, because significant production (including pre- and post-production work) will take place both inside and outside the United States and the continuing participation of the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production, and
    • has a foreign residence which the alien has no intention of abandoning; or
  • is the alien spouse or child of an alien described in clause (i) or (ii) and is accompanying, or following to join, the alien;”

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]