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What is O-1 Visa and how it is different from H-1B?

Shakeel Anwar

If you are travelling any part of the world for education, employment, residence and tourism, you need two things- Passport (Document for identity because you need to prove who are you); and Visa (To prove you have been checked before you travel). A Visa is a conditional authorisation by a country to a foreigner, allowing them to enter, remain within, or to leave that country. In other words, it is a document from which countries keep track of its citizens and to control the flow of foreigners.

What is O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa is a non-immigration visa and one of the O category visa to the United States of America, which is granted to that individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements," and to certain assistants and immediate family members of such individual.

Types of O Visa

There are four types of O category Visa which is given below:

1. O-1A: Granted to those individuals who possess an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.

2. O-1B: Granted to those individuals who possess an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.

3. O-2: Granted to those individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.

4. O-3:  Granted to those individuals who is the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s.

Features of O-1 Visa

1. This type of visa holder can work legally in the U.S. for the O visa sponsor. If, however, the worker wants to change jobs, a new visa is necessary;

2. It can be issued fairly quickly;

3. It will be granted for the length of time necessary for a particular event, up to a maximum of three years, with unlimited extensions in one-year increments;

4. This type of visa holders and their family may travel in and out of the U.S., or stay continuously for as long as the visa stamp and status are valid;

5. A spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may accompany the O visa holder, but they may not accept employment in the United States.

H-1B Visa: Process & Interview Questions

Difference between O-1 Visa and H-1B

1. Requirement for O-1 Visa and H-1B

The O-1 visa granted to those individuals who possess extraordinary talents whereas H-1B visa does not require any evidence of possessing exceptional ability, but employed to work in the United States of America, temporarily in a 'speciality ‘occupation such as business, engineering etc.

2. Time limit

O-1 Visa is granted for an initial period of three years, with opportunities to extend validity in the USA incrementally one year at a time, whereas H-1B visa is granted initially for a three-years but can extended another two years and possibly one more.

3. Dual intent

O-1 Visa holder can apply for U.S. Green Card to Become a Permanent Resident of the United States with O-1 status whereas H-1B visa are not statutorily recognized as "dual intent" visa and not authorised for applying US Green Card.

The US government restricted the H-1B visa to check the flow of professionals like businessman, engineering, etc. and introduces O-1 visa for “extraordinary individuals” from getting into the country. Hence, we can say the entire system of visa is just for tracking the flow of foreigners in the country.

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