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O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

O-1 nonimmigrant visas are for individuals who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. For instance, someone who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in a STEM field, professional sport, entrepreneurship venture, etc. and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements would be eligible. This page will focus on individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry).

Common Questions And Answers About O-1 Visas

What are the basic requirements for an O-1?

To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, have an achievement that has been recognized in the field through extensive documentation and be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of a small percentage of individuals who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

How do I prove that I have “risen to the very top of the field of endeavor”?

Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following can be presented:

  • 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 national or international experts in the field
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or any other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s 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 any 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 criteria do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation. The petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility.

How can I use “comparable evidence” to help my O-1 case?

If the listed criteria are not readily applicable to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility. To use comparable evidence, you must first show that one or more of the criteria listed above does not readily apply to your specific occupation. After you demonstrate that a certain criterion does not readily apply to your occupation, you then must show why your submitted evidence is “comparable” to the criterion listed in the regulations. We will be able to assist you in assessing the comparable evidence and crafting the arguments required to meet the O-1 requirements.

Can my spouse and children come with me on O-1?

Any accompanying 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 nonimmigrant.

Can my spouse or O-3 dependent work while I am on an O-1?

No, currently O-3 dependents are not eligible for work authorization for an O-1 dependent to work in the United States under this classification. However, they may engage in full or part-time study on an O-3 visa.

Does the job position I am taking also require extraordinary ability?

No, it does not. Similarly, there is no requirement that the position requires a person of O-1 caliber.

Can I start an O-1 business and then sponsor myself with O-1? In other words, can I sponsor my own O-1 through a company that I own?

Yes, you can. By setting up the case properly, the owner of a company can sponsor their own O-1 and work for the company.

Is O-1 a dual intent status/visa? Can I seek legal permanent residence (a green card) while on O-1 status?

Yes, O-1 is considered as a dual intent visa since there is no foreign residence requirement to obtain an O-1.

Discuss Your Visa Options with Fok Immigration Law

If you have questions about securing a temporary employment visa, call our San Jose office at 408-606-8911. You can also contact us online. We have more than 15 years of experience helping foreign employees and families come to the United States.