An O-1A visa is a non-immigrant visa designed to allow individuals with extraordinary ability in education, athletics, business, or science to work for a predetermined period of time in the United States. This period of time is determined by the time necessary to complete the event, activity or project which serves as the basis for the individual’s stay in the United States. Initially, O-1A visas are issued for a period of up to three years. After the initial period has passed, the O-1A visa can be extended in increments of up to one year if more time is needed to perform the work or job that served as the basis for the petition. Extensions of the O-1 visa are considered by the USCIS before being granted.
The O-1A visa shares a broad category (O-1) with O-1B visas; however, because these two sub-categories are geared toward individuals in different fields, the USCIS uses slightly different criteria for O-1A than it does for O-1B.
The O-1A visa is not self-petitioned; in other words, a United States agent or employer serves as the petitioner and the “individual with extraordinary ability” serves as the beneficiary. Also, the O-1A visa permits “dual intent,” which means that during his or her time in the United States, the O-1A beneficiary may freely seek permanent residency.
Individuals who have sustained acclaim at the national or international level in education, athletics, business, or science, and whose achievements are well documented in their respective fields, are qualified for an O-1A visa. The O-1A beneficiary should also be coming to the United States to work in his or her field of expertise.