The H-1B annual cap season is fast approaching and USCIS will begin accepting applications from April 2, 2019. If you are a student currently completing your studies in the United States on F-1 status and/or working on your OPT, and you want to continue your professional career in the United States, you have the option to apply for the H-1B or O-1. One of the key differences between the two is that the H-1B is a lottery system, whereas the O-1 is based upon your professional credentials, in other words, it is merit-based. Furthermore, if you wish to work for multiple employers, you can choose to be sponsored by an agent, which gives you the flexibility to work for multiple employers without each employer having to file a separate O-1 petition. Unlike the H-1B, the O-1 does not have any fixed quotas or prevailing wages. That means that if you are qualified for the O-1, you may want to consider applying for the O-1 over the H-1B.

The O-1 is an employment-based visa for applicants with “extraordinary ability” in the fields of Arts, Motion Picture or Television, Athletics, Business, Education, or Science. It is divided up into two types: the O-1A and an O-1B. Although sharing the same benefits, the criteria needed to qualify for the two are somewhat similar but different. Artists and designers who will work in the field of Arts and in the field of Motion Picture or Television must apply for the O-1B (commonly referred to as the ‘artist visa’ or ‘extraordinary ability visa’), while those looking to work in the fields of Athletics, Business, Education, or Science must apply for the O-1A.

An additional benefit of the O-1 is that if approved, you can bring both your supporting staff (O-2) as well as your spouse/dependents (O-3). The O-1 allows you to live and work in the United States for your sponsoring employer, or if your sponsor is a designated agent, you can work for multiple employers as a freelancer, provided they contract with you through your sponsoring agent. In the latter case, you can freely pick and choose your employers as well as changing them during the course of your authorized work period in the United States.

If you are in the United States and nearing the completion of your studies, speak with one of our O-1 immigration attorneys about your case and find out if the O-1 is right for you. We take a consultative approach in talking with you and guiding you through each step along the way to give you meaningful feedback. If you have read this far, you are most definitely someone who is ready to take the next step.

If you would like us to evaluate your qualifications for the O-1, contact our office at 718-539-1100 or


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