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.
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:
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:
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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