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About the O-1 work visa for extraordinary individuals

The O-1 work visa is for nonimmigrants to the United States who have exceptional abilities in the subjects of art, athletics, business, education and science. These individuals may be celebrities in the film, music or television industry and have received national or international recognition for their achievements. Some South Carolina residents might not realize that even famous individuals such as filmmaker James Cameron and actress Rachel McAdams need work visas.

There are two O-1 visa types. The O-1A visa is for individuals who have extraordinary abilities in athletics, business, education and science. For example, former professional hockey player Wayne Gretzky and scientist Albert Einstein would have qualified for O-1A visas. The O-1B visa is for those with exceptional abilities in the arts, motion picture and television industries. Along with celebrities, this visa is intended for essential personnel such as animal trainers, chefs, choreographers, costume designers, craftsmen and makeup artists.

To qualify for an O-1 visa, the applicants must show continued national or international praise. For an O-1A visa, this means that the applicant needs to have received a major award such as a Nobel Prize. For an O-1B visa, this means that the applicant must have been nominated for or received a major award such as an Emmy or Grammy. Applicants who do not have evidence of this must demonstrate their extraordinary abilities in other ways.

Since the O-1 visa is reserved for continued exceptional and recognized talent, there is a separate program for individuals who want to work in the United States to achieve this kind of recognition. Whether individuals want more information about the O-1 visa or other worker visas, they could contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If they are still unsure about the application process or need help gathering documents and filling out forms, they could obtain the advice and counsel of an immigration attorney.

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