O-1 Visa for Individuals of Extraordinary Ability.

Client Profile:

If you are a person with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, academia or athletics, or if you have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in film (motion picture or television industry) and have been recognized for those achievements, you may qualify for an O-1 visa. 


An O-1 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa that does not lead to a green card or U.S. citizenship, but instead allows you to stay and work in the United States for a set period of time. The O-1 visa can be renewed in order to extend status in the United States.


To qualify, a petitioner must demonstrate the applicant’s extraordinary ability through sustained national or international acclaim. 


Extraordinary ability for the O-1A (sciences, athletics, business) visa category is determined by criteria that is similar to the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability green card. The O-1 applicant must demonstrate winning a major one-time achievement such as an Olympic Medal or Nobel prize, or satisfy at least three of the following criteria: 


·     Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field;

·     Membership in distinguished associations which require that their members have outstanding achievements, as judged and recognized by national or international experts in their fields. 

·     Published material in professional/major trade publications or major media about you relating to your field of work;

·     Participation as a judge – individual or as a part of a panel – evaluating the work of others;

·     Original scientific, scholarly or artistic contributions of major significance;

·     Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media; 

·     Employment in a critical role or essential capacity for organizations/establishments that have a distinguished reputation;

·     A high salary/compensation for your services in comparison to others. 


For O-1B purposes, extraordinary ability is defined as “distinction,” defined as a high level of achievement, in the arts. As with the O-1A visa, distinction can be shown through earning a one-time major achievement such as Academy Award, Emmy, Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least three of the following:


·      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 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. 


If the officer determines the required evidence has been submitted, the officer will then proceed to evaluate the totality of all the evidence to determine whether it establishes that the:

·      O-1A beneficiary has sustained national or international acclaim and is one of the small percentage who has arisen to the very top of his or her field;

·      O-1B (Arts) beneficiary has sustained national or international acclaim and has achieved distinction in the field of arts; or

·      O-1B (MPTV) beneficiary has a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry such that he or she has a very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the field. 


If the officer determines that the petitioner has failed to meet these standards, the officer should articulate specific reasons as to why the petitioner, by a preponderance of the evidence, has not demonstrated beneficiary is a person of extraordinary ability.  



Do I need an employer to petition for me?

Yes. In order to apply for an O-1 visa, a United States employer, agent, or foreign employer working through a U.S. agent must apply for you. If you are an employer or agent, we highly recommend working alongside an experienced immigration attorney to help avoid delays or denials of your petition. 


What happens if I change employers in the U.S. while on an O-1 Visa?


In the event you wish to change employers, your new employer is required to file Form I-129 on your behalf. 


What if the above requirements do not match my field/career?


If some of the listed criteria are not readily applicable to your occupation or field, the petitioner may submit what is known as “comparable evidence.” In order for such evidence to be considered, we help explain why a certain criterion does not apply to your occupation or field, and break down how the submitted evidence is “comparable” to that criterion. 


How long can I stay in the United States?


An O-1 visa holder can remain in the United States for up to three years with the possibility of extending the stay on petition. 


Can my spouse and children accompany me?


Spouses and children of the O-1 applicant can receive O-3 status in the United States for the same period as the principal O-1 visa holder. Spouses and children are permitted to attend school but cannot work. When considering applying for an O-1 visa, we recommend you consult with an experienced immigration attorney to guide you.