O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

O-1 (Extraordinary Ability or Achievement) Visa: Outstanding Professionals, Artists, and Entertainers

What is the O-1 visa?

The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for people who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have shown extraordinary achievement in the movie or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for their achievements.

What are the requirements for an O-1 visa?

  • You must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim.
  • You must be coming temporarily to the U.S. to continue working in your area of extraordinary ability.
  • If you are claiming extraordinary ability in science, education, business, or athletics (the O-1A visa), you must have a level of expertise showing that you are among a small percentage that has risen to the very top of your field.
  • If you are claiming extraordinary ability in the arts (the O-1B visa), you must show distinction, which means a high level of achievement and a degree of skill and recognition well above what is ordinarily encountered.
  • If you are claiming extraordinary ability in film or television (the O-1B visa), you must show extraordinary achievement and a degree of skill and recognition well above what is ordinarily encountered and be recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the field.

What strategic considerations should I keep in mind?

  • When you apply for an O-1 visa, you must submit several pieces of evidence, including: a consultation (written advisory opinion from a peer group); a contract between the petitioning entity and you as the beneficiary; itineraries; and evidence of a U.S. agent.
  • The evidence required for an O-1A visa can be the receipt of an internationally recognized award (such as the Nobel Prize) or three other items, such as: membership in elite organizations in your field; published material in major publications that describes your work; original contributions that are of major significance to your field; employment in a critical role for employers with a distinguished reputation; or a  high salary for your services.
  • The evidence required for an O-1B visa can be the receipt of a major award of prize (such as the Academy Award) or three other items, such as: performance as a lead or starring participant in productions with a distinguished reputation;  national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials; a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by box office receipts or other indicators; or a high salary for your services in relation to others in the field.

The O-1 visa is granted to a person who possesses an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. The O-1 visa also applies to individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television.  

How do I qualify for this visa?
The beneficiary of the O-1 visa must be nationally or internationally acclaimed or known in the fields mentioned and must only stay in the U.S. temporarily. Persons with extraordinary skills in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics must be included in the small percentage of people who possess a great level of expertise and have achieved distinction in these fields. In the field of arts, motion picture or television industry, the person must demonstrate an extraordinary achievement by being considered outstanding, notable or leading beyond the ordinary in the field mentioned.