Welcome to H-1B Hell Season. The April 2 cap-season date is soon approaching fast. Your petition is being prepared for filing. Then it gets filed, after which it’s basically gone down the H-1B lottery black hole of doom. It’s either been selected … or not. You don’t know. Nothing to do but cross your fingers, sit and wait, hope and pray.

In the meantime, your whole life’s on hold. You don’t know whether you’ll be staying or going. The dread keeps you awake at night. You cry in the bathroom so no one will hear. You just got invited to your best friend’s summer wedding, and you don’t know how to RSVP, because you don’t know whether you’ll be here or not. How do you plan a lunch date — much less your entire future — when you don’t know what country you’ll be living in?

But that’s not even the worst part. Even worse than all that? It’s the lack of control. The helplessness. The randomness.

All your hard work, your hustle, your ingenuity, everything that got you here — it counts for nothing. It can’t help you. It makes no difference. It’s a  lottery system.  Just random selection. Nothing you can do but cross your fingers and wait. Now, THAT is the hardest part. OR, you may want to consider the O-1, which in many cases, may potentially be a better option than the H-1B for those who qualify.

The O-1 work visa — for individuals of “extraordinary ability or achievement”. In short, some of the advantages of an O-1 over a H-1B include the following –

  • The O-1 visa can last for 3 years, and it’s renewable indefinitely. There’s no cap.
  • There’s no minimum salary requirement.
  • The terms of employment can be pretty flexible.
  • You don’t need a college degree.
  • Best of all, you can use your O-1 evidence to apply for a fast-track green card — with no backlog for any country including India and China.

Considering as such, the O-1 seems to be a pretty good option with many advantages over the H-1B.

However, some of you may be somewhat baffled and intimidated by the application process. And in part, you are not to blame.  Mostly, because the qualification process is completely opaque.

There’s a ridiculous mystique built up around the O-1 “extraordinary ability” visa. The law requires “a level of expertise indicating that the person is one one who is “extraordinary” and who’s skills are substantially above those ordinarily encountered in the field, if not, significantly above. At this point, most people’s eyes glaze over, because the O-1 visa looks so out of their league. The media feed this perception with an aura of secrecy, allure, mystery, and exclusivity — dubbing it the “genius” visa, and the “rockstar” visa.

This is nonsense. It’s perfectly true that Nobelists, Olympians, and Oscar winners qualify as “extraordinary.” But so do lots of other accomplished people. You can qualify for an O-1 by meeting 3 out of the 8 “other” criteria that US immigration uses to measure “extraordinariness.” Your O-1 visa attorney should be able to put together the necessary patchwork of evidentiary materials to meet at least 3 of these. Compiling evidence in 3 of these 8 categories isn’t super-easy. But it’s not that hard.

It’s a question of following the right formula. Like everything else in US immigration law, the O-1 visa requirements are extremely rigid, categorical, and arbitrary. To compile a winning petition, you have to follow a specific formula with know-how strategies and tactics in place.

It’s like writing a business plan, or building a good pitch deck. You drill down to understand exactly what your audience is looking for. Then you give them a super-premium product, in exactly the format they want. Once you figure out your audience and your format, creating a winning O-1 petition is perfectly straightforward.

Is compiling an O-1 petition a lot of work? Yes. Is it still easier than the horrible tortures of the H-1B and other broken visa options? Most possibly. If you are a creative, ambitious, accomplished person who has been active in many artistic pursuits and activities, more than likely that you will have the necessary core ingredients on which you can build a successful O-1 petition.

Best of all, it rewards ACTION. It requires that you DO things. And the quality of those things, has a direct impact on the success of your O-1 petition. Unlike the rest of US immigration law, there’s actually a cause-and-effect relationship, between your efforts and your results. Compared to the helpless randomness of the H-1B lottery, this is a huge relief. It’s also an energizing, exciting, hope-reviving motivator.

Also note that the O-1 gives you the option to work as a freelancer for multiple employees by being sponsored by an agent. Unlike the H-1B, where you can only work for your petitioning employer, how cool would it be to show up for your job interview, with your O-1 qualifications already in hand?

If you have any questions about the O-1, contact our Immigration Practice Group at 718-539-1100 or info@jckimlaw.com.