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Are you 'extraordinary'? If so, you can get around Trump's H-1B order

Indians are turning to niche visas that require certain distinctions and achievements

Bhaswar Kumar  |  New Delhi 

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

Donald Trump's H-1B visa restrictions killing your chance at 'the American dream'? You can always opt for O-1 or EB-1 visas, with one catch — you need to be "extraordinary". 

By now, it's no news that H-1B visas are no longer your best bet for entering the 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'. However, the Times of India reported on Monday that niche visas that require the applicant to possess certain 'distinctions' have grown in popularity. 

The report presents the case of a Mumbai fashion designer, Shalini (name changed), who obtained an O-IB visa a few months ago to go to the US. In another example given by the daily, a renowned instrumental musician, who was not named, obtained an EB-1A immigration visa, which requires particularly high "achievements" on the applicant's part. 

According to experts approached by the daily, such visa categories will become more popular with Indians aspiring to head to the US. 

In fact, the overall popularity of the O-1 (A and B) category of visas is on the rise. Citing US Department of Homeland Security data, ToI revealed that in 2016, the US allotted 93,086 O-1 visas, up from 31,969 in 2006. In fact, Indians clinched 1,137 visas under this category in 2015.  

Why should Indians look at these more demanding, albeit largely free of restrictions, visa categories? In April this year, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order called Buy American and Hire American to protect the American industry from unfair competition and stop the "misuse" of H-1B visas. Further, in March this year, the US suspended the processing of premium H-1B visas starting from April 3 citing a backlog of applications.  

You better be 'extraordinary'

However, the average Joe has no real chance of landing one of these visas. A quick look at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website's wording used to describe the eligibility criteria for these visas will establish that quickly enough. 

If you can prove that you are an "individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognised nationally or internationally for those achievements", then you can apply for an O-1 category non-immigration visa. 

According to the USCIS website, the O-1 category has four classifications: O-1A (sciences, education, business, or athletics), O-1B (arts, motion picture or television industry), O-2 (individuals accompanying an O-1 applicant), and O-3 (an O1 or O2's spouse or children). 

However, if you desire to stay in the US for longer (Green Card), and you happen to be the recipient of an Olympic Medal, the Nobel Prize, or an Oscar, then EB-1A immigration visas are your best bet. The visa, which is meant for an "alien" (no, not Super Man) of "extraordinary ability" (yes, this again), does not require an applicant to secure sponsorship from an employer or institution. In fact, one immigration advisory website calls it your "fastest way to a Green Card". 

Don't have a spare Nobel Prize lying around? "Lesser" and international awards, along with meeting other required criteria, can still earn you an EB-1A.    

Under the EB-1 category, "outstanding professors and researchers" and "multinational managers and executives" are also eligible for permanent residence in the US, if they can meet the specific criteria set by the USCIS.

If you are genuinely interested in one of these visas and think you can actually land one, here are the official USCIS webpages explaining the criteria and application process for O-1 and EB-1 visas.

First Published: Mon, July 03 2017. 15:35 IST