The Differences Between O-1A and O-1B Visas

Choosing the Correct O-1 Category

Why is this an essential decision for foreign nationals looking to take advantage of this visa category?
Any business that requires the employment of international workers with extraordinary ability must choose the correct O-1 visa category to avoid poor petitions because the eligibility requirements do not match the industry trends of the O-1 beneficiary. Our entertainment immigration lawyers help clients navigate the O-1 process with confidence, knowing that they are applying for visas in the categories with the highest quality chances of getting an approved case.

In 2020, there will be more pressure on USCIS adjudication officers to scrutinize petitions in all categories, not just the O-1 visa. Extra attention to petitions is necessary.

O-1A Visa – Athletics, Education, Business, and Arts

The O-1A visa has the highest eligibility requirements and, therefore, the most difficult O-1 visa. These visas are typically used by foreign nationals whose occupation is unrelated to the arts, such as business executives, world-class athletes, and academic persons. O-1A visas require copious evidence to prove that the beneficiary has experienced sustained international or national acclaim in their industry.
There are several categories for proof of sustained acclaim under the O-1A category, and they include the following:

Receipt of a major award, such as a Nobel Prize or Olympic medal

  • Or at least three of the following:
    • Other international and national awards in the beneficiary’s industry
    • Association with groups that require outstanding qualities for membership
    • Published articles about the beneficiary and their contributions to the industry
    • Tangible and intangible original contributions to science, academia, or business that are considered significant
    • Authorship of papers and essays in professional media outlets
    • Employment in an essential capacity
    • Receiving higher compensation than peers

The O-1B visa has a less rigid eligibility standard than the O-1A visa for beneficiaries in the arts, motion picture, or television industries. The O-1B visa eligibility requirements are slightly altered to favor persons in the categories making it easier to meet criteria categories than the O-1A. O-1A applicants cannot take advantage of the O-1B visa requirements because the supporting evidence for their background would not fit in enough categories to obtain the visa, and the job title is not likely to be accepted by USCIS for the O-1B category.
O-1B visa applicants can apply for classification under the arts or as a professional in film/TV.

O-1B petitions under the arts must prove distinction, which concerns skill, recognition, and prominence substantially beyond what typically occurs in the industry of the beneficiary. Reputation means the foreign national is leading, well-known, and renowned in their industry.

Receipt of a significant award that would be the equivalent of a world championship in athletics or a Grammy award in music Or at least three of the following:

    1. Previously has and will participate in critically acclaimed and prestigious events, projects, and performances.
    2. Significant national and international awards in the beneficiary’s field of endeavor
    3. Previously has or will in the future play a leading role in projects, events, and performances with prestigious companies and organizations.
    4. Articles from third parties with reputable media outlets discussing the work of the beneficiary
    5. Critical reviews of the beneficiary’s work included significant media outlets, trade publications, and industry journals.
    6. Evidence of sustained acclaim and recognition from experts, industry insiders, essential organizations, and other sources
    7. Earning or earning a significantly higher wage than peers in the same industry.

O-1B petitions under film, motion picture, and television must prove an existing history of extraordinary achievement through unique accomplishments in motion picture and television that is significant compared to the standard professional in their field. Significance under the O-1B petition for film, motion picture, and television also means being well-known, leading, and renowned in the industry.

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