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  • By: Serving Immigrants
  • Published: July 23, 2020
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O-1 visas are available for those individuals who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field. One of the most common misconceptions about O-1 visas is that it must be tied to a specific employer. Although the term “employer” is often used when referring to O-1 visas, you don’t necessarily have to be an employee to obtain the visa. You can obtain an O-1 visa as an independent contractor sponsored by an agent.

Obtaining An O-1 Visa As An Independent Contractor

You can obtain an O-1 visa as an independent contractor. However, it is important to keep in mind that you must meet the same criteria as any other O-1 visa applicant. You must demonstrate that you have extraordinary ability in your field. In addition, you cannot petition for your own O-1 visa.

In general, all O-1 visa applications must be sponsored by a legal and operating United States-based organization or agency. As an O-1 visa holder, you may only obtain work through the organization or agency that sponsored your petition. The required petition must be submitted to the USCIS 45 days before your work in the United States begins. If you decide to change agencies, then you must have the new agency file a petition on your behalf. The petition must include copies of:

  • Contractual Agreement—the agreement between you and the O-1 visa agency. It must specify the wage and other conditions of employment. It can be a summary of the terms of a written or oral agreement. If you are going to work at multiple locations, the agreement must contain an itinerary.
  • Itinerary—a well-detailed explanation of the nature of the events and activities your contract covers must be submitted. The itineraries must demonstrate that the terms of your contract are, in fact, related to your area of expertise and that they can be categorized as extraordinary. If you are going to work at multiple locations, you must also include itineraries of when and where this work will take place and include the start and end dates of the activities.
  • Consultation—you must also have a letter from an appropriate peer group, labor organization, or experts in your field. This letter serves as a recommendation that you meet the standard of being extraordinarily skilled in your field.

In addition to these pieces of evidence, you must still include additional evidence demonstrating your extraordinary ability in your field.

An Immigration Attorney Can Help

If you would like to petition for an O-1 visa as an independent contractor, an experienced immigration attorney can help you gather the evidence you need and put together a strong petition. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.

Image of Attorney Magdalena Cuprys, Esq with 4.7 start reviews

Attorney Magdalena Cuprys is a seasoned immigration lawyer based in Orlando and Coral Gables, Florida. With three languages under her belt and years of legal experience working with immigrants of all kinds, she brings considerable experience and insight to the field and works hard to explain immigration concepts, empower future citizens, and keep current and prospective immigrants up to date on US immigration law.

Connect with her firm, Serving Immigrants, to stay updated on the latest developments in United States immigration law and gain valuable insights needed to navigate the challenging legal landscape of immigration in Florida. 

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