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If you’re a chef who has reached highest acclaim and mastery levels in their field, the O-1 visa can be a way for you to live and work in the United States.

The O-1 visa is meant for individuals with extraordinary ability in areas like the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. It’s a temporary, non-immigrant visa but a great opportunity to share your talents in the U.S. food industry.

But meeting the “extraordinary ability” standard isn’t simple. You have to submit ample evidence to prove you are truly one of the few most elite chefs out there.

How will you prove your extraordinary ability as a Chef?

The simple answer is: documents.

To qualify for an O-1A visa for extraordinary ability in culinary arts, you must provide documentation showing you have reached a certain level of expertise.

These should identify you as a member of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of your field.

You must meet at least 3 out of the 10 criteria outlined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • receipt of nationally/internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence as a chef
  • membership in elite associations in the culinary field which demand outstanding achievement
  • published material about you in major media relating to your culinary work
  • evidence you have judged the work of other chefs or culinary professionals
  • distinctive original contributions of great importance to the culinary field
  • authorship of scholarly culinary articles in major trade publications
  • leading or critical role for distinguished culinary organizations
  • high salary or other particularly high income for your culinary abilities
  • commercial successes in culinary arts

The more evidence you provide – the stronger your O-1A case.

What’s the O-1 visa process?

The process begins with a U.S. employer or agent filing a petition for the O-1A visa with USCIS on your behalf. This will include all documentation of your extraordinary ability.

If approved, you would then apply for the O-1A visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to be admitted to the United States.

The first O-1A status can last for up to three years. You’ll have the option to extend your stay in 1-year increments. During that time, you would only be able to work in the specific culinary job and role that was described in your original visa petition.

Summing up, to be eligible for the non-immigrant O-1 visa, you’ll basically need to:

  • show extraordinary ability that has risen you to the top in your field
  • provide evidence of your achievements like awards, publications, etc.

Where can you get help with all this?

This is where you should rely on visa or immigration lawyers.

The steps sound simple but things get very complicated when you have to deal with an immigration system in a foreign setting.

Immigration Legal Center can help you out. Contact us to know if you qualify and discuss your options.