In a welcome development for Indians seeking to work in the US, the Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced the extension of filing time for "O" and the "P" non-immigrant visas from six months to a year ahead of an event.
The "O" category provides admission to persons with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics, or those persons with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television production.
The "P" category is for those entertainers and athletes who cannot qualify under the extraordinary ability standard for the "O" category.
Petitioners can now file "O" and "P" petitions under normal processing procedures up to one year before a scheduled event, competition or performance. USCIS is making the change through a final rule that was transmitted to the Federal Register today for publication on April 16, 2007.
Before the change, employers and agents were only allowed to file petitions six months in advance of their events. The short filing period often meant that case processing wasn't completed until or after the date the individual was needed.
"The decision to extend the timeline results from comments received after USCIS first proposed the rule in April 2005. Those comments, from performing arts organisations, educational institutions, the sports industry, members of Congress and the general public, overwhelmingly supported the proposal to extend the petition filing time from six months to a year," the agency has said.