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 petitions, please click here.

The EB-1A is an employment-based green card for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

The O-1 is a temporary nonimmigrant work visa that allows individuals to be sponsored by an employer or an agent, whereas the EB1A allows individuals to obtain a green card and become a legal permanent resident. EB1A applicants can either be sponsored by an employer or they can petition for themselves without any sponsor. While no offer of employment or labor certification is required, EB-1A petitions must include evidence to show that the applicant plans to work in their field of extraordinary ability.

As shown below, the criteria requirements for the O-1A and the EB-1A are essentially the same (with the exception of two additional criteria for the EB-1A which cater to the arts). The criteria are listed in the chart below –

O-1A CriteriaEB-1A Criteria
Evidence of a major, internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize or evidence of three (3) of the criteria belowEvidence of a major one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal) or evidence of three (3) of the criteria below
Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavorReceipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
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 fieldMembership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
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 soughtPublished material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the fieldOriginal scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is soughtAuthorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidenceEvidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
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 soughtEvidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputationEvidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts

The standards required for both O1A and EB1A categories are high, i.e. you must be one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor and be able to demonstrate your sustained national or international acclaim. If you have not won a one-time achievement, such as a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, you must submit evidence of at least three of the criteria in order to demonstrate your extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim.

If you are an individual with extraordinary ability in the field of arts (i.e. the O-1B visa) and you are interested in applying for a green card through the EB-1A category, you should carefully consider whether your level of extraordinary ability can meet up to the comparatively much higher standard required for the EB-1A. The O-1B requirement is lower than that of the O-1A, and only requires that the applicant show they have achieved distinction in the field. One thing to consider when determining whether an individual who qualified for the O-1B in the field of arts may also qualify for an EB-1A is to look at whether there is any major media, either about the individual or written by the individual. This type of evidence may be one of the early indicators that the individual in the arts could qualify for the EB-1A.

As a result of the similarity between the two categories, many who qualify for the O-1A may potentially be qualified for the EB-1A as well. Preparing an extraordinary ability petition for either category requires significant preparation and documentation.

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