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Did you know that you can sponsor yourself for an O-1 Visa through a company you own? Indeed, you can! Read more to learn the requirements and see if this is an option for you!

What are the basics of an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, athletics, arts, motion picture, or the television industry. Typically, an O-1 visa requires an employer, who is not the applicant, to sponsor them. However, entrepreneurs can petition for themselves if they own the company that acts as the petitioner. To sponsor your own O-1 Visa, you will have to meet specific requirements for self-petitioning and all the general requirements for the visa itself.

You must demonstrate that you have “extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, or a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.” You will need to provide documentation to establish that you meet at least three of the USCIS criteria for demonstrating extraordinary ability. You can learn more about the O-1 Visa here.

What do these requirements entail?

To self-petition, there is an additional requirement. You must have a legal entity that is owned by you, which will file the O-Visa petition on your behalf, with you as the Beneficiary. You must prove that you are the owner of the company. It’s important to know that creating a company alone is not enough. You also need to outline a bona fide “employer-employee” relationship with other individuals at the company.

This means that you cannot be the sole operator, manager, and employee. There is no employer-employee relationship if the Beneficiary can’t be fired. However, if you sit on a Board of Directors as the sole or majority stockholder of a corporation, for example, that will constitute the relationship because the other board members can exert power over you through firing, hiring, and payment.

Here are some documents you can provide to establish the employer-employee relationship:

  • Evidence of contracts and purchase agreements;
  • Evidence of a Board of Directors, with their roles and responsibilities;
  • Company by-laws stating the Board of Directors has the power to fire you; and
  • Evidence of your responsibilities and supervision of your work by others.

There are other documents and evidence you can also use to show you meet the requirements to self-petition for an O-Visa, and an Immigration Attorney can help you to plan and gather the necessary documents. If you think you meet the requirements to self-petition for an O-1 Visa, please contact us. We will review your case, ensure that you have provided all necessary information and materials, and give you advice for how to prepare the strongest application possible.

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