O-1 (Extraordinary Ability Visa)

O-1 (Extraordinary Ability Visa)

Visas For Those Who Have Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics.

The O-1 visa is available to those individuals who have “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.” O-1 applicants must demonstrate extraordinary ability by “sustained national or international acclaim.”

The O-1 category is interpreted very broadly. The individual entering the U.S. must be coming to work in their field of ability, but the position itself does not necessarily need to require the services of a person of extraordinary ability.

The O-1 visa for science, education, business or athletics:

To obtain an O-1 visa to work in the sciences, education, business or athletics, applicants must demonstrate that they possess a level of expertise in the field that demonstrates that he or she is among a very small group of individuals who have risen to the top of the field of endeavor. This can be demonstrated by either receiving a major internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize, or by providing documentation in three of the following categories:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field;
  • Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements of their members;
  • Published material about the individual or his or her work;
  • Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or similar fields;
  • Evidence of original contributions of significance in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles or review of scholarly articles written by others in the field;
  • Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations with a distinguished reputation; or
  • Evidence that the individual has or will command a high salary.

The O-1 visa based on extraordinary ability in the field of art:

To obtain an O-1 visa in the arts, the individual must show that he or she has attained “distinction.” Distinction is defined as “a high level of achievement in the field of arts evidence by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.” Distinction has also been defined as prominence in the field of endeavor. The applicant can demonstrate distinction by being the nominee or recipient of an important national or international prize such as an Academy Award, Emmy, or Grammy, or by submitting documentation in at least three of the following categories:

  • Evidence that the individual has 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 released, publications contracts, or endorsements;
  • Evidence that the individual has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the individual has performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  • Evidence that the individual has a record or major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion pictures or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the individual has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the individual’s achievements; or
  • Evidence that the individual has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

The O-1 visa based on extraordinary achievement in television or motion pictures:

The same criteria are used to determine extraordinary achievement as are used in determining distinction in the arts. However, the evidence is weighed differently and the applicant does not have to meet as high a standard.

An O-1 artist in motion pictures and television must demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement.”


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