by Jeanny Tsoi on Jan. 15, 2020



This past Sunday, Hollywood hosted the 90th Annual Academy Awards, commonly known as the Oscars.  While, the results were not surprising, some might be surprised to learn that several of the winners (and nominees) are not natural-born U.S. citizens.  Guillermo del Toro, for example, the winner of Best Director and Best Picture, was born in Mexico and Margot Robbie, was a nominee for Best Actress, was born in Australia.  While these details may have escaped some viewers, they came as no surprise to Wilner & O’Reilly.

Wilner & O’Reilly has been helping foreign nationals break into the American entertainment industry for years.  In fact, our firm has helped many young actors and actresses, including YouTube sensations, obtain O-1 visas early in their career.

O-1 visas are for individuals who have shown extraordinary ability or achievement in their field of endeavor.  Particularly, O-1B visas pertain to the arts, motion picture and television industry.  To qualify, the O-1B beneficiary must meet at least three (3) of the following criteria:

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events, which have a distinguished reputation;
  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements;
  • Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes;
  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged; and
  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Receiving an Academy Award “automatically” qualifies the recipient for an O-1 visa, but such award is not required.  Wilner & O’Reilly has found other lawful creative ways to meet the O-1 standard.  For example, we have used social media as a means of demonstrating that the beneficiary has received recognition for his or her achievements.  In one case, we submitted evidence to show the beneficiary had over a million followers or views on Instagram, YouTube, and/or Facebook.  This allowed us to avoid submitting traditional mediums of recognition such as television ratings and box office receipts.

While many foreign celebrities’ accomplishments in the United States are incredible, O-1 visas are not limited to them. One does, however, have to be extraordinary and if you are extraordinary, allow us to prove it.

If you want to know more about O-1 visas, please contact our office for a free, in-person consultation to speak with an experienced immigration attorney.  We will be able to assist you.

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See's full Terms of Use for more information.