Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram


O-1A Visa High Salary


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O-1A Visa High Salary
In this presentation, we’re going to focus on the O-1A visa category – ‘High Salary’. The actual official wording of this category is: –

Evidence that the alien has commanded and now commands a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

The O-1A visa adjudicator will be looking objective documentation – such as employment contracts, pay slips and tax returns or even an accountant’s letter of support if your financial affairs are less than straightforward – that enumerates your salary package and how it compares to other professionals in the field. Additionally, US Immigration will compare your earnings to other professionals working in the same country as you.

For many professionals applying for the O-1A visa, the job offer in the United States may carry a significant remuneration package, and for this visa application we can submit evidence of a future high salary based on the offer of employment.

Determining whether or not your salary qualifies you to satisfy this category, we must undertake a methodical approach. Knowing that your salary is or will be higher than most is not enough – we must be able to prove it with reliable documentation.

This presentation is unique as it will walk you through  a number of US resources you can use to independently verify that your earnings are or will be significantly higher than others working in your field.

If your income has in the past or will be above the American top earners in your field then we know you will be in good shape in terms of satisfying this category as American wages tend to be higher than many others around the world.

Once the adjudicator has established what your actual annual or ‘per project’ pay is, this income is compared with a variety of independent salary bureau statistical reports that are available online to see where your income measures on these charts.

O-1A Visa High Salary Commentary

In the US, perhaps the most commonly used and most trusted independent salary bureau is O*Net Online.  There should be similar resources in your home country. In this presentation we’re going to give you a working example and teach you how to use this excellent resource. Once you’re in O*Net, if you click on the section called ‘Career Cluster’ you can search for almost any mainstream occupation.

Example 1: If you go to the Career Cluster window there is a drop down window. Click on that and then select ‘Business, Management and Administration’.

Once you enter, you’ll then be given a list of jobs that come under that category. Select the first one listed – ‘Computer Operators’ – (you will also notice that each job has a number. The reference number for a ‘Computer Operator’ is 43-9011.00. This number can be used on other similar websites.)

If you click on the ‘Computer Operators’ option, you will then be taken to a ‘Summary Report’ that basically describes in detail what ‘Computer Operators’ do.

Scroll down this page until you get to the section called ‘Job Zone’ and under that section you want to focus on these areas – the ‘Education’, ‘Job Training’ section and the ‘SVP Range’.

For the ‘Job Training’ section, you want to see some commentary that indicates that a BA degree or extensive training/experience is usually required for this job.  In this example, for ‘Computer Operators’ only one to two years training is required.

Under the ‘SVP range’ section, this is an indicator as to the degree of skill required for the job. For BA level and above, you really want the SVP range to be 7 – 8+. In this example the SVP range is 6-7.  Therefore, this is not a particularly skillful job. For the ‘Education’ section, it says in essence that only a modest amount of education is required, perhaps an Associate Degree, which is half a BA degree.

For O1-A visa applicants whether or not your particular job requires a degree is not that significant, especially in the media and entertainment fields where many of the jobs rely more on talent and ability rather than academic qualifications. This outline has been drafted to cater to a broad spectrum of employment, but at the end of the day we’re looking to measure pay more than anything else for this O1-A visa category.

Example 2: If you go back to the ‘Business, Management and Administration’ home page and this time select ‘Financial Manager’ (11-3031.02), you will notice that the reference numbers are not in numerical order. You will also notice that the entire list of job titles is not exactly in alphabetical order, so take your time and review the entire list carefully until you find what you are looking for.

Ok – select the ‘Financial Manager’ position and then scroll down to the ‘Job Zone’ section. You will notice under ‘Education’, it says “Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not’.

Under ‘Job Training Requirements’ the report provides some further information about the typical job requirements. The SVP range is a scale to highlight the degree of difficulty required for that job, and a score of greater than 8 denotes the highest level of difficulty. In this instance in this fairly senior role, the SVP is between 7- 8. So you can research any job and see whether or not the job you’re doing now, or may have been offered, has a high skill level requirement.

So you can research any job and see whether or not the job you’re doing now, or may have been offered, has a high skill level requirement.

Ok – let’s finally talk about measuring the actual prevailing wage. If you scroll further down this page you will see a section called ‘Wages & Employment Trends’. This financial information is provided through an agency called “Career One Stop” – you can see their logo in this shot.  In this section, you can see that the median wage for a Financial Manager is $107,160. If you are earning at the median level, this will not satisfy this O-1A visa category. Instead, you need to be at the 90th or higher percentile, whether against this US salary scale index or your own home country’s salary index.

To find out what the range of salaries are, click on the ‘Select a State’ drop down. In this case we’ve selected California.

Here you can see that to be in the top 90th percentile you would need to have a remuneration package that exceeds $187,200.

Many employees at this level get paid a base salary plus an annual bonus depending on overall performance. This bonus can also be included in your O-1A visa remuneration package.  If there are other perks and benefits on top, then you may need to have an accountant produce a letter to confirm the full value of your remuneration package. However, to impress USCIS, if your base salary and bonus exceeds the 90th percentile, then you have a very strong case in this category.

I hope you found this presentation very helpful. Please don’t hesitate to now go and run a few tests on your own income levels. Be sure to try various similar job types and find the one that might best reflect your actual position. Try to steer away from generic titles like ‘Chief Executive’, unless of course you really are the Chief Executive of a very large company. Instead try to focus on your particular skill set like Software Developer, Accountant, Model, etc. Once again, we’re so delighted that you found us and hope you enjoy our O-1A visa presentation series. When you’re ready, please email or call us for a free consultation and we can discuss your case and get the ball rolling.

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 442 244 4350

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