O-1 Work Visas: Extraordinary Ability

The O-1 category is reserved for aliens coming to the U.S. temporarily who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, athletics or arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

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 O visas.

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O-1 Visa: Extraordinary Ability (Science, Education, Business, or Athletics)

Petition Document Requirements

A U.S. employer should file the petition with:

  • A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the foreign national’s area of ability;
  • A copy of any written contract between the employer and the foreign national or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the foreign national will be employed;
  • Evidence that the foreign national has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least three of the following:
    • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized international experts;
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the foreign national and his work in the field for which classification is sought;
    • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought;
    • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
    • 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;
    • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

If the above standards do not readily apply to the foreign national’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the foreign national’s eligibility.

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O-1 Visa: Extraordinary Ability (Arts, Motion Picture, or Television)

The O-1 category also applies to foreign nationals who are coming to the U.S. temporarily and have extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

Petition Document Requirements

A U.S. employer should file the petition with:

  • A written advisory opinion, describing the foreign national’s ability as follows:
  • If the petition is based on the foreign national’s extraordinary ability in the arts, the consultation must be from a peer group (including labor organizations) in the foreign national’s field of endeavor; or a person or persons designated by the group with expertise in the alien’s area of ability;
  • If the petition is based on the foreign national’s extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television industry, separate consultations are required from a labor and a management organization with expertise in the alien’s field of endeavor;.
  • A copy of any written contract between the employer and the foreign national or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed;
  • Evidence the foreign national 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:
    • The foreign national performs 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;
    • Achievement of national or international recognition, 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;
    • Achievement of significant recognition 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.