O-1 Visa

Overview/Description

The O-1A visa is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics and is set aside for people who have risen to the top of their profession.  Additionally, these persons must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in their area of extraordinary ability.

Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  • O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (excluding the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
  • O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.
  • O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s

The two main categories O-1A & O-1B have different criteria that are used to assess a potential applicant and the O-1A is the most difficult visa to obtain.

Requirements/Eligibility

The O-1A visa is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics and is set aside for people who have risen to the top of their profession.  Additionally, these persons must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in their area of extraordinary ability.

Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • 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
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • 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
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

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

The O-1B visa is for foreign nationals (aliens) who have demonstrated extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.  Additionally, these persons must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in their area of extraordinary ability.   For the arts, the alien must show that he has acquired “distinction” in his artistic field.
”Distinction” means a high level of achievement as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is described as prominent, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

The alien may establish qualification through evidence of nomination or receipt of a major, national or international recognized award such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award. In absence of such an award one can establish himself as a qualifying alien through at least three of the following types of evidence:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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).

Application Process

This visa does not permit self petitioning and as such, the petitioner (the company) must file Form I-129 and list the applicant as a beneficiary.  The petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien’s services.  In addition, 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 is required.

How long does the Visa last for?

Initially approved for up to 3 years and can be extended in one-year increments.

How are Family Members Treated?

A spouse & children under the age of 21 can apply for an O-3 visa but may not work in the United States.  They may however, engage in full or part time study on an O-3 visa.

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Common Questions & Answers

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Fees

Fee schedule