o1 Visa Requirements: Everything You Need to Know
The O-1 visa is a dual intent visa, which means the beneficiary can concurrently pursue permanent resident status while in the U.S. 8 min read
Updated November 19, 2020:
What are 0-1 Visa Requirements?
What are 0-1 visa requirements? United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) O-1 petitions can be filed only by a U.S. agent, a U.S. employer, or a foreign employer through an agent of the U.S. on behalf of the beneficiary. The O-1 visa is a dual intent visa, which means the beneficiary can concurrently pursue permanent resident status while in the U.S. on O-1 without having to worry about preconceived intent issues. The O-1 visa is for outstanding workers in the sciences, arts, athletics, education, or business. A job offer from a U.S. employer is a basic requirement for the O-1 visa. There is no annual limit on the number of people who can receive O-1 visas.
Benefits of an O Visa
O-1 status is distinguished from other employment-related statuses in that it applies to more types of work than other visa categories, such as H or L. One of the benefits of the O visa is that it does not have an annual quota. An important benefit of O-1 status is that it is a viable status to seek for immigrants with alien status subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement of the J-1 exchange visitor program.
O-1 VISA: INDIVIDUALS OF EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY OR ACHIEVEMENT
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. The O visa is separated into different categories and has slightly different criteria and requirements depending on the type of extraordinary ability and work to be performed.
- The O-1A visa is intended for those individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including those working in the arts, motion pictures or television industry.)
- The O-1B visa is for those individuals who will work in the arts, motion picture or television industry who can show a demonstrated record of distinction in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
- The O-2 visa is for individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist the O-1 visa holder in a specific event or performance.
- The O-3 visa is available to the spouse and unmarried minor children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.
CRITERIA FOR THE O-1 VISA(S)
O-1A – individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including arts or motion picture/TV) must show sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if there is proof that the beneficiary has gotten a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have a receipt of internationally or nationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence in your field.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have a membership in associations in your field that classification is wanted and requires excellent achievements of members, as judged by recognized international or national experts in your field.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have published content in major trade, media, or professional publications about the beneficiary and their work in your field.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have participated on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied field of specialization.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have an original scholarly, scientific, or business-related contribution of key significance in your field.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have authorship of articles in the field as shown in major media or professional journals.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have employment in an essential or critical capacity for establishments and organizations that have a distinguished reputation.
- You may qualify for an O-1 VISA if you have a high salary or other payment for services in the past or future.
O-1B – individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts (not including motion picture/TV) must show they are prominent in their field of endeavor.
- You may qualify for an O-1B VISA if you have proof that the beneficiary has been nominated for, or has received significant international or national prizes or awards in a field such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or the Director’s Guild Award.
- You may qualify for an O-1B VISA if you have evidence the beneficiary has achieved services as a starring or lead member in events or productions that have an illustrious reputation as evidenced by advertisements, critical reviews, publications, publicity releases, contracts or endorsements.
- You may qualify for an O-1B VISA if you have accomplished international or national acknowledgement for achievements, as demonstrated by published materials or critical reviews by or about the beneficiary in major trade journals, newspapers, magazines, or other publications.
- You may qualify for an O-1B VISA if you have accomplished in a starring, lead, or critical role for organizations that have an illustrious reputation shown by articles in newspapers, publications, trade journals, or testimonials.
- You may qualify for an O-1B VISA if you have a history of major critically acclaimed or commercial achievements, as demonstrated by title, rating, box office receipts, standing in the field, television ratings, or motion picture and other occupational accomplishments documented in major newspapers, trade journals, or other publications.
- You may qualify for an O-1B VISA if you have established substantial recognition for accomplishments from critics, organizations, government agencies, or other known experts in your field in which the beneficiary is engaged; testimonials must clearly indicate the author’s expertise, authority, and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements.
- You may qualify for an O-1B VISA if you have evidence the beneficiary has commanded or will command a large salary or other substantial payment for services that relate to others in your field.
CRITERIA FOR THE O-2 VISA
The O-2 visa is available for those foreign nationals who plan to enter the United States to accompany O-1 aliens in the arts, motion picture and television industry, as well as athletics.
Please note there are no laws providing for O-2 visas to accompany O-1 aliens working in the sciences, education or business fields with the condition that the O-2 visa holder is restricted to working only with the O-1 alien.
O-3 VISAS FOR FAMILY OF O-1 AND O-2 VISA HOLDERS
The spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 visa holder. O-3 VISA holders may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in full or part-time study pursuant to the O-3 visa.
- All O-1 and O-2 petitions must include a written advisory opinion from the appropriate union.
- All O-1 and O-2 petitions for motion picture/television productions must include a written advisory opinion from the appropriate union as well as management group.
Once the visa petition is approved for O-1/O-2 by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the beneficiary can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa. Canadian citizens with an approved United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) petition can apply for admission in O status at a port of entry.
As an O visa nonimmigrant, the beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition for up to three years. The beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for a period of up to 10 days before the petition validity period begins and up to 10 days after the validity period ends but the beneficiary may only engage in authorized employment during the validity period of the petition and not during the 10-day periods. There is no maximum overall time limit in which the O visa holder may remain in O status as there are for some other temporary visa categories, but extension requests must be file timely if an O visa holder intends to remain inside the United States in O visa status.
EXTENSION OF STAY
The petitioner has to request an extension of stay to continue or complete the same event or activity. If an extension of stay is filed by a new employer or by the same employer but for a new position, the beneficiary may be granted an extension of up to three years. Beneficiaries are never guaranteed that they will be granted visas or extensions for the maximum time permitted by law.
Under what circumstances may an O-1 Visa be sought?
The Code of Federal Regulations defines a qualifying event for O visa status as “an activity such as, but not limited to, a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture, series, tour, exhibit, business project, academic year, or engagement.”
What’s the difference between EB-1(a) and O-1?
O-1 is a non-immigrant status or visa while an EB-1(a) (Alien of Extraordinary Ability) is a petition of immigration under EB-1 category.
I’m currently at J-1 status and subject to the two years residency at home obligation. Can I apply for O-1?
Apply for an O-1 from a U.S. Consulate abroad to get O-1 status, since you might not change to a non-immigrant status in the United States before you fulfill the two years home residency obligation (or obtain a waiver to the requirement).
How can I get an O-1 visa?
Your potential employer has to first get an accepted O petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) then you can apply for an O-1 visa either in your home country or a third county.
What can I organize before filing my O-1 petition?
Prior to employer filing the O-1 petition, get an advisory opinion from a suitable consulting individual, such as a labor organization, peer group, or management organization. The advisory opinion should state whether an applicant is capable as an alien of extraordinary ability and whether such abilities are essential for the activities assumed. In certain cases, an advisory opinion may be waived or met by proof that such an opinion isn’t available.
What documentation do I need to submit for the O-1 petition?
You need to submit the following documentation:
- Form I-129 with O/P Supplement and one of the following:
- Evidence that an appropriate consulting entity does not exist;
- An advisory opinion;
- A request for a waiver of the consulting requirements;
- A request for expeditious handling; or
- A company letter from the petitioning employer supporting the petition;
- Supporting Documentation; and
- Filing fee of $1325.00."
What is "supporting documentation"?
The supporting documentation establishes that the alien succeeds as an alien of extraordinary ability and that the individual will be employed in activities that use his extraordinary abilities.
My O-1 petition is approved by USCIS. How might I obtain an O-1 visa?
Once an O-1 Petition is approved, you can apply for an O-1 Visa at the United States consulate in your home country.
What documents do I organize for an application for an O-1 visa at a United States consulate?
The information and documents required when applying for an O-1 visa are:
- Form DS-156 (non-immigrant visa application)
- Visa application fee ($100.00)
- A recent photograph meeting these requirements
- A full copy of the O-1 Petition including all supporting documentation
- Approval Notice (Form I-797) of the O-1 Petition
How can an alien change into O-1 Status in the U.S.?
When the alien is already in the U.S. as a permanent resident, he can change his other non-immigrant status into O-1 status, if he qualifies as an O-1 alien.
If you need help with your O visa application, post your legal need on the UpCounsel marketplace. UpCounsel lawyers represent the top 5 percent attorneys in the United States, graduating from top law schools such as Harvard Law School and Yale Law School. UpCounsel attorneys have an average of 14 years of legal experience and have represented corporate clients like Google and Menlo Ventures.