Extraordinary Ability Individuals (O1 Visa)

The O category is reserved for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O1), the artist’s or athlete’s support staff (O2), and the O1’s spouse and/or children (O3).  To qualify, the alien must be coming to the U.S. to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement.

There is currently no annual cap on the number of  O visas that are issued each fiscal year.  Furthermore, there is no limit to number of times that an individual may be granted O status.  As a result, if an individual can continuously demonstrate eligibility for O status, he or she may be granted extensions an indefinite number of times.

The standards for the O category is very stringent.  The individual must be able to show sustained acclaim based on his or her extraordinary talents and achievements.  Often the documentary requirements can be daunting, and it is best to plan the O1 petition filing well before the individual’s anticipated arrival into the United States.

The O1 category also applies to aliens who are coming temporarily and have extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

A U.S. employer should file the I-129 petition with:

1)     A written advisory opinion;

2)     A copy of any written contract between the employer and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed;

3)     Evidence the alien 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 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 individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • 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 alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien'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; or
  • If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the alien's eligibility.

To discuss this option, please feel free to schedule a consultation.