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O-1 Visa, Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

Overview: The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

Before applying for O-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad, USCIS must approve a Form I-129 petition, filed by the U.S. employer. Labor Certification is not required.

Family: Spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of ageof O-1 and O-2 visa holders could apply for O-3 Visa. O-3 visa holder may not work in the United States, but can engage in full or part time study.

Period of Stay: initial stay of three years, request extension of 1 year, no limit of extension

Green Card intent: Under the doctrine of dual intent, O-1 visa applicants are not required to maintain a residence abroad. Regulations provide that the approval of a permanent labor certification or the filing of a preference petition shall not be a basis for denying an O-1 petition, a request to extend such a petition, or the foreign national’s application for admission, change of status, or extension of stay in O-1 classification.


Statistics:
In fiscal year 2010, USCIS received 10,394 applications for O-1 visa, approved 8,589, denied 1,805, waived or overcome 1,655. USCIS also received 5,189 applications for O-2 visa, approved 4,435, refused 754, waived or overcome 591. USCIS also received 2,288 applications for O-3 visa, approved 1,929, refused 359, waived or overcome 327.


Visa Type:
  • O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
  • O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.
  • O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s


Application Process O-1 Visa: The petitioner must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and
  1. A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.
  2. Contract between petitioner and beneficiary
  3. An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable.


Evidentiary Criteria for O-1A
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:
  1. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  5. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  6. A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  7. 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
  8. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation


Evidentiary Criteria for O-1B
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:
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Performed and 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence


Last Updated: 4/21/2017.


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