O-1 Visas

O-1 Visas

The O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category available to individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. It allows individuals with exceptional talents to come to the United States temporarily to work in their field of expertise.


Here are the key features of the O-1 visa:

  1. Extraordinary Ability: To qualify for an O-1 visa, the applicant must demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field. This is typically evidenced by sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements demonstrated through extensive documentation, such as awards, published work, critical reviews, memberships in prestigious organizations, and more.

  2. Fields of Extraordinary Ability: The O-1 visa covers a wide range of fields, including science, education, business, athletics, arts, and the motion picture or television industry.

  3. Advisory Opinion: As part of the application process, the petitioner must obtain an advisory opinion from an appropriate consulting entity or a peer group in the applicant's field attesting to their extraordinary ability. This opinion supports the claim of the applicant's exceptional talent or achievement.

  4. Employment Offer: The O-1 visa requires an employment offer from a U.S. employer, agent, or sponsor who will serve as the petitioner for the visa application. The petitioner must demonstrate the need for the applicant's extraordinary ability and specify the terms and conditions of employment.

  5. Duration and Extensions: Initially, the O-1 visa is granted for a period of up to three years, with the possibility of extensions in one-year increments. There is no maximum limit on the number of extensions, as long as the individual continues to work in their field of extraordinary ability.

  6. Support Personnel: O-1 visa holders may be accompanied by essential support personnel who are integral to the individual's work. Support personnel must have critical skills and experience that are not readily available in the United States.

  7. Dual Intent: Unlike some other nonimmigrant visa categories, the O-1 visa allows for dual intent, which means that the applicant can have the intention to pursue permanent residency in the United States while maintaining their nonimmigrant status.

The O-1 visa category has different criteria depending on the field of extraordinary ability.


Here are the specific criteria for each O-1 visa category:

  1. O-1A Visa (Science, Education, Business, Athletics): Extraordinary ability demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim in the applicant's field.

    • Receipt of a major internationally recognized award (such as Nobel Prize) or at least three of the following criteria need to be met:
      • Documentation of the applicant's receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized awards.
      • Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements.
      • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the applicant.
      • Participation as a judge of the work of others in the field, either individually or on a panel.
      • Original scientific, scholarly, or business contributions of major significance in the field.
      • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media.
      • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations with distinguished reputations.
      • Renumeration, evidence of high salary or other substantial renumeration.
  2. O-1B Visa (Artists and Entertainers):Extraordinary ability demonstrated by distinction and a high level of achievement in the applicant's field.

    • Receipt of or nomination for a significant national or international award or prize, (such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a GRAMMY, or a Director's Guild Award) or at least three of the following criteria need to be met:
      • Leading or starring role in productions with distinguished reputations.
      • National or international recognition for achievements, as evidenced by critical reviews or other publications.
      • Leading or critical role for organizations with distinguished reputations.
      • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success.
      • Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, or experts in the field.
      • Renumeration, evidence of high salary or other substantial renumeration. 
  3. O-2 Visa (Essential Support Personnel):The O-2 visa is for individuals who are an integral part of the O-1 visa holder's work and possess critical skills and experience.

    • They must have a longstanding working relationship with the O-1 visa holder and provide essential support services that are not readily available in the U.S.
    • The O-2 visa application should demonstrate the critical role and necessity of the support personnel.

It's important to note that the criteria mentioned above are general guidelines, and each case is evaluated individually. The evidence provided must establish that the applicant meets the specific criteria for their field of extraordinary ability.

Applying for an O-1 visa involves submitting a comprehensive application package to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application requires extensive documentation to establish the applicant's extraordinary ability, including evidence of accomplishments, letters of recommendation, contracts, itineraries, and a detailed explanation of the proposed work in the United States.

The Immigration Law Firm of Marcin Muszynski, Esq. can assist you in preparing a strong and compelling petition.

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