The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. For more information about O-1 visa, please click here.

In summary, you must present evidence of a one-time achievement (for example if you received a major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize), or evidence of at least three (3) of the following:

  • LEAD/STARRING ROLE IN PRODUCTIONS: You have performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements.
  • LEAD/STARRING/CRITICAL ROLE FOR ORGANIZATIONS: You have 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.
  • PRESS MATERIALS WRITTEN BY OR ABOUT YOU: You have 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.
  • COMMERCIAL/CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SUCCESSES: You have a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by indicators such 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.
  • EXPERT LETTERS: You have 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 the beneficiary’s achievements. Please see our blog post discussing Expert Letter when you click here.
  • HIGH SALARY: You have been receiving (or will receive) a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

One of the most common questions we get from our clients are, “Am I Qualified For the O-1B Visa?” “What Are My Chances/Likelihood of Success in Securing the O-1B Visa?”

Rather than any single determinative factor, there are several factors which may play a role in determining whether you are qualified for the O-1B visa and your chances/likelihood of success. Some of these key factors are as follows:

  1. It depends on your occupation/field of endeavor.

The regulatory standards required to be met for the O-1A and O-1B are different. The O-1A (business, science, athletics) possesses a comparatively much higher standard that the applicant must meet up to: “level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor”, as opposed to the O-1B (arts, motion picture and/or television): “distinction” – which means a “degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person is renowned, leading, or well-known…”.

There are certain situations where one may qualify for both the O-1A and O-1B. For example, let’s say if you are a CEO who was also an architectural designer were to file an O-1 petition, then since you are an architecture professionals (field of arts) as well as managing directors who operate and run a business (field of business), you may be able to possibly qualify for both an O-1A and O-1B. However, if all given factors can be considered equal in terms of quality of available evidence, the O-1B would be the preferred route to take, as the standards for the O-1B are comparatively lower than it is for the O-1A.

  1. The length of your professional experience does not necessarily matter.

Whether you are a recent graduate with only 2-3 years of professional experience, or a seasoned professional with over 10 years of professional experience, the actual length of your professional experience in and of itself is not necessarily a determinative factor when assessing whether one is qualified for the O-1. Rather, one’s eligibility is determined by the strength of the evidence, which depends on various factors, such as the kinds of role that you have performed for a project or company, whether you have published any articles in major media, or whether you have won any awards or received recognition from experts in the field. In order words, even if you have worked in an particular field of endeavor for over 10 years, it does not go to say that you would have all of these kinds of evidence that can support a strong O-1 petition, and one who has significantly less years of experience may have played key roles, won awards and been published in major media.

Similarly, age is not a determinative factor when assessing whether you are qualified for the O-1. There are many talented, young achievers who have proven themselves through their work and activities in s short period of time to be well-qualified for the O-1 visa.

  1. If you have played a key role working on major projects at major organizations of “distinguished reputation”, it will be essential towards establishing two of the O-1 criteria.

Two of the O-1 criteria require you to establish your lead or starring role for productions, and your lead, starring or critical role for organizations. If you have worked for well-known companies with a track record of awards, recognitions and/or exposure in the press, such work will be a strong indicative factor for your eligibility for the O-1 visa.

  1. Awards and publications help to strengthen the case, but it is not necessarily a requirement per se.

Awards definitely help to strengthen a case, whether that be awards that you have received, awards for team projects you were involved in, or awards received by any of the companies that you have worked for.

Similarly, if you have been featured in any major press, and/or authored any publications that have been published in magazines, trade journals or other forms of online or print publications, these can also help to strengthen a case. However, if you don’t have awards or publications of these kinds, it does not mean that you are not qualified for the O-1 visa.

For more information about whether awards are needed and what types of awards qualify for the O-1, please click here.

  1. It depends on whether you are able to obtain strong Expert Letters (aka recommendation letters) from well-qualified and renowned experts in the field.

Expert letters are commonly obtained from managers, team leaders, business associates, CEO’s of companies that you have worked for, as well as from other well-established individuals you may have or may not have collaborated with but can comment your professional qualifications. Expert letters will form the core of an O-1 petition and can be used in support of establishing many of the O-1 criteria. As such, it is imperative that you are able to obtain strong expert letters from well-qualified experts in the field.

For more information on expert letters, please click here.

  1. A high salary helps but is not necessarily a requirement.

While a high salary is definitely better than a lower one, as it can be used to meet the O-1 criteria related to high salary, it is not necessarily a requirement. It should be noted that there has been a recent trend with some officers questioning petitions that involve a lower than average salary.

For more information about whether a high salary can help to secure an O-1, please click here.

  1. Ultimately, the quality of evidence that is submitted is the ultimate determinative factor.

In the end, the quality of evidence is what determines the likelihood of success when petitioning for an O-1 visa. As such, it is important to gather as many useful pieces of evidence that will help the case, while filtering out any evidence that may not be helpful towards the case. The ultimately objective of preparing the O-1 will be to maximize the strength of your petition in order to increase the likelihood of success and address any weaknesses and gaps along the way.

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