Created by the Immigration Act of 1990, O visas are issued to immigrants who come to the United States and have exceptional skills in the fields of arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. Applicants who have demonstrated high achievements in the motion picture or television industries can also qualify for O visas. In order to qualify, a petitioner must receive a job offer from an American company.
There are different categories of O visas: O-1A, for applicants with sciences, education, business, or athletics abilities; O-1B, for applicants with high achievements in the motion picture or television industries; O-2, for those individuals who accompany O-1 visas holders and must be “integral” or an “essential part” of the O-1 visa holder’s activities; and O-3, spouses or children of O-1 or O-2 holders. Recipients may be permitted to stay in the U.S. for an initial period of up to 3 years.
There were 31,831 O visas issued in 2019. A significant portion — 6,199 — were issued to applicants from the United Kingdom in 2019. The next five highest countries of origin for O visa recipients were Brazil, Mexico, China, France and Germany.