O-1 (Alien of Extraordinary Ability)

DESCRIPTION:

An O-1 visa is a classification of nonimmigrant temporary worker visa granted by the United States to an alien who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has demonstrated a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. Spouses and dependent children of O-1 visa holders qualify for O-3 visas.

There are two subcategories of the O-1 visa: First, the O-1A visa is available for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics.  Secondly, the O-1B visa is available for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.

An O-1 visa is initially granted for up to 3 years. Subsequently, it can be extended for one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of extensions that may be granted.

REQUIREMENTS FOR O-1A:

To qualify for O-1A classification, aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing evidence of receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award; OR at least (3) three of the following with documentation:

  1. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  2. Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field;
  3. Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspaper or other media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought;
  4. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  5. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought;
  6. A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
  7. Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought;
  8. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations & establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

**If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.

REQUIREMENTS FOR O-1B:

To qualify for O-1B classification, the applicant must present evidence that the beneficiary has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award; OR present evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  1. Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participation productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements;
  2. Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  3. Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials
  4. A record of major commercial or critically-acclaimed successes as, shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
  5. Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field In which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of beneficiary’s achievements;
  6. A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

**If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility (this exception does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).

PROCESSING:

The petitioner should file the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant worker with the USCIS. In addition to the Form I-129 and evidentiary criteria as listed above, the O-1 petitioner should also submit the following documentary evidence:

  1. Consultation in the form of a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. There may be exceptions to the consultation requirement.
  2. Contract between the petitioner and beneficiary. A copy of any written contract between the petitioner and beneficiary or a summary or the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed.
  3. Itineraries in the form of explanations of the nature of the events or activities, beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable.

Read more about the O-1 status and Visatopia’s O-1 services:

Read about some of our successful O-1 cases: