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Everything You Need to Know About the Required Contracts to Obtain an O-1 Visa for Artists

O-1 Visa for Artists


The United States allows you to apply for a visa based on your extraordinary ability. You can file an O-1 visa for artists if you fulfill the criteria required for it. In this article, we will see the basic requirements for an O-1 visa for artists. 

What is an O-1 visa?

An O-1 visa is granted to individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. So artists who excel in performing their arts can take advantage of this visa and visit the United States. People from diverse backgrounds go to the US to perform/showcase their art in paintings, dance, music, etc. It is a faster route for an artist to come to the US, and if later they want to get an immigrant visa, they can apply for an employment-based first preference visa to adjust their status. 

Extraordinary ability refers to distinction, i.e., a high level of achievement that can be proven by a degree of skill and recognition through the national or international claims that you are prominent, renowned, or leading in your field of expertise. 

Categories of O-1 visa for artists

The O-1 visa is further divided into three categories:

  • O-1A is granted to a beneficiary who has sustained national or international claims and has risen to very few percentages on the top. It includes extraordinary ability in sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures, or television industry)
  • O-1B (Arts) is granted to a beneficiary who has sustained national or international claims and achieved distinct arts recognition.
  • O-1B (MPTV) is granted to a beneficiary who has a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture of the television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition to the extent that the beneficiary is respected as outstanding, notable, or leading in their field of expertise.

The family members of an O-1 visa holder are eligible to apply for an O-3 visa—the term family members’ includes spouses and unmarried children under 21, including the adopted children. 

Eligibility for an O-1 visa:

To apply for an O-1 visa, the following eligibility criteria must be met. 

  • The field of extraordinary ability should be science, arts, education, business or athletics, or outstanding performance in the motion picture and television industry.
  • The beneficiary must demonstrate their extraordinary ability through national or international claims. 
  • The beneficiary must demonstrate that they are traveling the US temporarily to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

What are the evidence requirements for an O-1 visa?

While filing an O-1 visa petition, the evidence must be supported to prove your extraordinary ability. You can submit the following pieces of evidence: 

  1. Evidence specific to the qualification of O-1 visa sought such as affidavits, contracts, or other documents proving the artists’ achievements in performing his arts. 
  2. Copy of written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of terms of the oral agreement accepted by both the parties.
  3. A written advisory opinion from the appropriate consulting entity or entities.
  4. An explanation of the nature of events or activities, the duration of the events or activities, and a copy of the itinerary.
  5. Documents proving the beneficiary’s expertise and how such information is acquired by the affiant (the one writing the affidavit).
  6. Consultation – For O-1A and O-1B (Arts) applicants- The petitioner must provide advice in the form of opinions from US “peer groups” about those who have expertise in beneficiary abilities (including labor organizations). The content, if favorable, explains the skills and achievements of the beneficiaries in the field of work, explains the nature of the task to be performed, and does the work requires the services of those with exceptional skills. Suppose the advisory is not in favor of the applicant. In that case, the specific statement of facts supports the conclusion in opinion. Suppose the opinion is submitted by a group other than the labor organization. In that case, USCIS must send a copy to the national office for appropriation. If the working organization does not respond, USCIS will decide on the evidence. 

An artist can submit other pieces of evidence that prove their extraordinary ability as artists. 

Application Process of an O-1 visa

The employer or US agent should file Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) along with the documents mentioned in the form instruction at least 45 days prior to the date of employment to avoid potential delays. They must petition for you in connection with the services of an O-1 artist, but the O-1 artist must have his Form I-129. If the application is approved, the petitioner would be notified using Form I-797 (Notice of Action) by the USCIS.

Period of Stay

The artist can stay in the US for up to three years plus ten days before and after the validity of your visa begins on an O-1 visa. Extensions can be provided for up to one year, depending on the time required to complete the initial event or activity. 

To extend the stay of the O-1 visa holder, the employer must file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) along with a copy of Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) and a statement explaining the reasons for an extension. The said extension spans over one year, and the beneficiary can apply for it as many times as they want.

Change of Employer

An O-1 nonimmigrant visa holder has the option to change his employer during their stay in the US. The new employer has to file a new Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) to sponsor your stay in the US as a new employer or extend your stay. 


If you are an artist and have doubts about O-1 visas, immigration attorneys at Sethi and Mazaheri law firm will be delighted to help you. 

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