O-1 nonimmigrant visas are available for highly talented or acclaimed individuals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. Extraordinary ability means a "level of expertise indicating that the person is one of that small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor."
The O-1 category is especially helpful to scientists, physicians, artists, athletes, architects, researchers, and extraordinary businessmen/women. Unlike the H-1B category, the O-1 visa does not have an annual quota and there is also no requirement for the employer to pay the "prevailing wage". Therefore, many applicants qualify for O-1 status each fiscal year.
How does the applicant establish "extraordinary ability"?
If the applicant has received a major, international award (i.e., a Nobel Prize, an Olympic Medal, an Oscar award), the applicant will automatically qualify for O-1 status based on this singular achievement.
However, if the applicant may prove sustained national or international acclaim by documenting at least three (3) of the following:
· Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards;
· Membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievement;
· Published material about the applicant in professional or major trade publications ;
· Evidence that the applicant has judged the work of others in the field;
· Evidence that the applicant has made contributions of major significance to the field;
· Evidence of scholarly articles written by the applicant;
· Evidence that the applicant has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation; or
· Evidence that the applicant has commanded high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the applicant's field of extraordinary ability, the applicant may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.
There is no limit on the length of admission for an O-1 applicant, except that admission is usually authorized for a period of three years for the temporary position offered with one year extensions beyond the initial 3 year period. Dependents of O-1 visa holders are categorized as O-3s, and are not authorized to work while in said status.
There are separate requirements for entertainers and artists who wish to apply for an O-1 visa. Please contact our office directly for an outline of these requirements as they are significantly more complex than those outlined above.