O-1 VISA (INDIVIDUALS OF EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY)
The O-1 visa category is nonimmigrant visa designed for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. Dependents and spouses of O-1 visa holders are also eligible to obtain O-3 visas.
While the exact eligibility requirements for the O-1 visa vary based on the field, there are some commonalities in terms of application requirements.
Consultation Letter Requirement: As a part of his/her O-1 petition, the applicant must obtain a consultation letter from an appropriate peer group, labor organization, or management organization regarding his/her qualifications or achievements. “Peer group” refers to a group or organization consisting of practitioners of the alien’s occupation. Advisory consultations are labor consultations, unless no appropriate union exists.
Duration of Stay: The initial period of stay for an O-1 visa is a maximum of three years, and is based on how much time the alien will need to perform their duties, per the petitioning employer. The visa can be renewed for 1 year at a time thereafter, based on evidence that the alien’s presence is required to continue the work they were originally hired to do.
There is technically no limit on the number of years an O-1 nonimmigrant visa holder can stay in the U.S. He/she may continue to stay in the U.S. as long as the O-1 visa and O-1 status are valid and unexpired.
Sciences, Education, Business, or Athletics
In order to be eligible for an O-1 visa in the field of sciences, education, business, or athletics, the alien must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing the following evidence:
Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as Nobel Prize, or 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 which require outstanding achievements of their members (as judged by recognized national or international experts in the discipline or fields).
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien concerning the alien’s work in the field (include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation).
- Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the field.
- Scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field.
- Authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media.
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
- Contracts or other reliable evidence.
- Any other comparable evidence.
In order to be eligible for an O-1 visa in the field of arts, the alien must demonstrate “distinction.” For the purposes of immigration, “Distinction” means a high level of achievement in the field of arts as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person is described as prominent, leading, or well known in the field of arts.
The term “art” means to include any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to fine arts, culinary arts, visual arts, and performing arts. Additionally, aliens engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers but also other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, coaches, arrangers, stage technicians, costume designers, makeup artists, musical supervisors, flight masters, and animal trainers. The position of architect/urban designer also falls within the field of fine arts.
The following evidence is required to establish the O-1 eligibility:
1. Evidence that the alien has been nominated for or has been the recipient of significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award, or
2. At least three of the following:
- Has or will perform a lead or starring role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation (evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications contracts, or endorsements).
- 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).
- Has performed 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).
- Has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes (evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, 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).
- Has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged (evidence must indicate the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements).
- Has commanded or now commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field (evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence).
- Any other comparable evidence.
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