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Coming to America … the easy way?

Published On: Sep 25 2013 11:37:49 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 25 2013 11:38:41 AM CDT
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By attorney A. Renee Pobjecky, Special to THELAW.TV

With all the debate over immigration reform, there remains one very simple way for a foreigner to get access to the American dream: the O visa. This is the visa that often allows your favorite Dominican baseball player or a renowned German scientist to effectively cut the line at the immigration office.

There are many opportunities for foreign nationals to come to the United States either on a permanent or temporary visa. An example of a temporary visa is the O visa. You are eligible for this visa if you possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. This visa is also available to individuals who have demonstrated a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

In order to qualify for an O-1 visa, you must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability has been defined in the fields of science, education, business or athletics as a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.

In order to demonstrate international recognition and extraordinary ability in the business or sciences, you, the O-1 visa applicant, may provide evidence that you are the winner of an internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or by demonstrating at least three of the following:

  • Internationally or nationally recognized prizes or awards;
  • Published material about your work;
  • Membership in an association that requires members to have outstanding achievement;
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles published in any type of major media or professional journals;
  • High salary or any other type of compensation;
  • Participation on a panel, or as a judge for other people's works;
  • Evidence of past employment for organizations or establishments that have a high reputation.

To demonstrate international recognition and extraordinary ability in the arts and motion pictures and television, you may also provide evidence that you are the winner of an internationally-recognized award, such as an Academy Award or a Grammy, or by demonstrating at least three of the following:

  • Lead or starring role for productions or events with distinguished reputations;
  • National or International recognition demonstrated by published material about your work;
  • Lead, starring, or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputation;
  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success;
  • Significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field;
  • High salary in relation to others in the field.

If the above standards do not readily apply, then you may submit comparable evidence to establish your eligibility.

While the O visa isn't for everyone, if someone is considering coming to America, and if they qualify for an O visa, it certainly beats many of the other hurdles that people jump over to get here.

This is a very brief summary of the O visa process and it is imperative that you review all of the requirements of this particular visa before submitting your application. More information can be found at www.uscis.gov.

The author, A. Renee Pobjecky, is a business immigration lawyer at Pobjecky & Pobjecky, LLP in Winter Haven, Fla.