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O1 Visa Extraordinary Abilities

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O1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

The O-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for internationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or individuals who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

There are two types of O1 Visas, O1A and  O1B, both categories have the same benefits; however, the criteria needed to qualify to differ.

  • O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry

General Requirements

To qualify for an O1 visa, you must submit documents to demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must 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 that makes it look like that the person is one of the small percentages who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction.


means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

To qualify for an O1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, you must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent you are recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

In addition, you must have a petitioner who is your employer, agent, agent for multiple employers or an agent on the behalf of a foreign employer. For more information, you can Click Here.

Application Process O1 Visa

The petitioner should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, (see Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions.  The petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien’s services. To avoid delays, the Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment.


A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. For more information Click Here.


If approved, you as an O-1 visa holder can bring both your support staff and your dependents. In addition, O-1 Visa allows you to live and work in the US through your ‘sponsor’, or the employer who petitioned the visa.

Of Course,  if your sponsor is an agent, you can work for any employer in the US. However, in order to qualify for an O-1 Visa, you have to show that you have a job offer in the US and that you have achievements in your field of work that tend to demonstrate you have an ‘extraordinary ability’.

Who is Eligible?

The first thing to remember is eligibility is based on whether you are applying for an O-1A Visa or an O-1B Visa, under those circumstances, here are the benefits.


  1. You can live in the US
  2. You can work in the US
  3. Can freely travel in and out of the US
  4. You can bring O-3 Visa dependents with you
  5. Study in the US part-time
  6. Do not need to prove intent to return home
  7. Can freely transfer to a different visa
  8.  You can pursue permanent residency
  9. No limit on number distributed by the US


  1. You must do only the work you applied to do
  2. Your visa is tied to your sponsoring job
  3.  It will not lead directly to permanent residency


Moreover, the content of the Visa application is different for every applicant,  but the process can usually take at least 12 weeks. Also, you cannot apply more than a year before your job starts.

  1. Compile your application packet.
  2. Send out your application to USCIS. The decision times vary, but generally 2-6 weeks.
  3. If necessary, answer any RFE’s you receive.
  4. Receive your approval notice in the mail.
  5. Get your Visa from an Embassy
  6. Locate a US Consulate (also known as an embassy) that you can get to easily
  7. Make an appointment for an O Visa
  8. Complete the DS-160 Form online.
  9. Schedule your appointment and pay online.
  10. Go to Visa Interview.
  11. Get Visa Stamped Passport in Mail.
  12. That’s it! Welcome to the US!

Going to the US

Above all, the O-1 approval notice will have a start date for your work. You can travel to the US 10 days before that start date to “get settled”.

It is important to realize, in order to qualify for an O-1 Visa, you must have an ‘extraordinary ability’ in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.  Besides this, you have to be sponsored by a US employer, an alien cannot sponsor themselves. Also, the work you are coming to the US to perform must be temporary in nature, and in the same area as your extraordinary ability.  Click to read more about the O1 visa Criterias.

In general, you do not need to have won a Nobel Prize or Grammy to qualify. Contact us today to see if we can help.