I take pride in my grits: Visas for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
March 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Getting a work visa through employment is tough these days. Ask anyone in any industry. The highest standard of all is the O-1, based on “extraordinary ability.” The places to work if you want an O-1 are science, education, business, athletics, the arts, movies or TV. This little post will focus on people in business. One of the true icons of the 21st century, Seth Godin, is fond of saying that in order to be successful today, you had better be an artist. I think that any O-1 in business needs to show that she is an artist. My method for preparing an O-1 is start with what makes my client proud.
Unless my client has a Nobel, Oscar or Olympic Gold Medal lying around, none of which are given for business achievement, she’d better have at least 3 of the following things to get an O-1 visa: 1. nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in her field; 2. membership in associations which require outstanding achievements, as judged by experts; 3. published material in professional or major trade media about my client and her work; 4. original contributions of major significance; 5. authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major media in her field; 6. high salary as compared to her peers; 7. participation as a judge of the work of others in her field; and/or 8. employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
Look at that list. 4 and 5 are kind of the same thing. 6 and 8 generally go together. So do 1 and 3. SO WHY IS IT SO TOUGH TO GET AN O-1? Because you need at least three out of eight? Does Immigration truly want my client to have more than three? The answer is not found in some formula that immigration attorneys all keep in the visa laboratory. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits.
For business-based O-1s, the slamdunk has to be work on a major, original project. Something that nobody else is doing and that people are buying. Lots of people. If you are reading this and think you might have an O-1 visa up your sleeve, but your efforts have not yet yielded a big return, reread that list. Don’t abandon the notion that you might have a potential O-1. Sit down and make a list of everything that you’ve ever done that makes you proud, each achievement that you think is art, even if it has nothing to do with your current business. Then call an immigration lawyer.
Not just any immigration attorney, but one who would meet the criteria for an O-1.