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O-1 Nonimmigrant Visa

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.  To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a 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.

Evidentiary Criteria +

The O-1 beneficiary must also submit evidence of at least three (3) 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

Meeting the minimum requirement of providing required initial evidence does not, in itself, guarantee approval.  USCIS uses a 2-step adjudicative approach.  First, USCIS determines whether the petitioner submitted the required evidence that meets a sufficient number of criteria.  Then, USCIS reviews the entire record as a whole to determine whether it sufficiently demonstrates that the beneficiary “possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.”

Period of Authorized Stay +

The O-1 is approved for an initial period of up to three (3) years.  It can then be extended in increments of up to one (1) year.

If the beneficiary is subject to the 212(e) two-year home residency requirement, s/he must share a plan to fulfil this requirement before the first O-1 extension.

Dependent Family Members +

Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of O-1 foreign nationals may seek admission in O-3 nonimmigrant classification. They may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in full or part time study on an O-3 visa.