FAQ: Can I petition for myself for the O visa?


It is absolutely possible to petition for yourself, especially if you are working in a profession that is traditionally occupied by independent contractors. Some examples of these professions are hair dressers, make-up artists, painters, musicians, to name a few.

What do I need to do before getting started on my petition?

You should find one of your “clients” to act as an Agent for you, to represent all the clients that you will have here in the U.S. This particular client will have to sign a short agent-principal agreement, which our law firm will draft for you, as well as create an itinerary for your time here on the O Visa. He/she will also provide the signature as the “petitioner” on the application.

Can my spouse work while on the dependent visa?

No, your spouse would not be able to work while here on the dependent O-3 visa. Your spouse would need a separate work visa that provides a work permit on its own right. However, anyone on the O-3 visa may go to school. Therefore, this would be a good way for your children to be here and attend school.

What is the maximum term of stay for the visa?

The maximum term of stay for the O visa is usually granted for 3 years. However, you have to prove to USCIS that you will be needed here for the entire 3 years through a set and specific itinerary that we can help you draft. If USCIS does not believe that your work will take up the entire 3 years, they can grant you less time.

Will I be able to get a Green Card?

While the O visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa, it is possible to convert it into a green card through the EB-1A (extraordinary ability) preference category. It is expected that you build up your resume with publications, peer reviews, presentations, etc. while here on the O visa towards that eventuality. Working with an attorney early in the preparation will help you with this also.

Will I be able to travel out of the country?

Travel is permitted once your O visa is approved. However, you should not travel while your Change of Status, from another category to the O Visa, is pending. If you have to travel while waiting for the Change of Status, you will have to obtain a O visa stamp through the consulate and may be required to prove your qualifications to the consular officer.

Do I Qualify?

To fully answer this question, you should schedule a consultation with our attorney. Here is a quick run down:

There are two categories of O visas:

(1) O-1A is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.  To qualify for this category, you must be someone in the industry of sciences, education, business, or athletics that exhibits a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. While this standard sounds daunting, whether you have achieved this is defined by case law released over the years and may be easier to prove than you think.

(2) O-1B is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry. This is a much easier standard than the standard for O-1A. Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means international or national distinction.  Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. Oftentimes, publications in magazines or acknowledgement in social media could suffice.

It is also easier for someone in the arts industry to self-petition as these professions traditionally operate as independent contractors, working for many clients at any given time.

If you have questions regarding your qualifications, call us at 617-871-0788 for a free resume review.