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O-1 Visas: Persons of Extraordinary Ability

O-1 visas are issued to individuals of extraordinary ability or achievement who wish to stay and work in the US on a temporary basis. The category recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; or those who have extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television field which have been nationally or internationally recognized.

The O-1A visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics, while the O-1B visa is for those with extraordinary achievements in the arts, the motion picture industry, or television field.

O-1A Visa Qualifications

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

Comparable evidence/documentary support may be supplied.

O-1B Visa Qualifications

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 evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  • Performed or 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 or 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

Comparable evidence/documentary support may be supplied.

For both categories, the extraordinary individuals must be coming to the US temporarily to continue work in their field of achievement.

O Visa Application Procedure

The petitioner must file a Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS more than 45 days in advance of the individual’s US start date (but no more than 1 year in advance).

The following pieces of evidence must be filed with the Petition:

  • A written advisory opinion from a peer group or labor organization stating they have “no objection” to the beneficiary’s employment must accompany the petition. If there is no peer group/organization in existence then the decision will be made based off the evidence on record.
  • A contract between the beneficiary and petitioner or evidence of terms of agreement (what the petitioner offered and what the beneficiary agreed to).
  • Itineraries detailing the activities/events and their duration which the beneficiary will be performing in/taking part in.
O Visa Time Period of Stay

An O nonimmigrant may stay in the US for an initial period of up to three (3) years. A beneficiary’s status may be extended in increments of up to one (1) year with the filing of a new I-129.

O Category Family Visas

The spouse and/or children of an O visa holder may accompany or join the principal applicant in the US on an O-3 visa. O-3 visa holders may not work in the US, however, they may study.