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Extraordinary Abilities in Fields Such as Business, Athletics, Education, and Science.

O1A Visa

Extraordinary Abilities in Fields Such as Business, Athletics, Education, and Science


The O1A visa is for internationals with extraordinary abilities in business, education, science, and athletics who want to come to the US temporarily to work in their field of expertise.  In order to file for an O1A visa, you must have a petitioner to file on your behalf because you cannot petition on your own behalf.  A petitioner must also show that you are extraordinary and reached a high level of achievement through documented evidence.

What are the requirements?

The O1A visa has stern requirements for the eligibility of applicants. The initial one must be that you have a job and have a valid job offer attached to your application. The second part is to demonstrate that you are extraordinary in the field of science, business, education or athletics and show that you meet the criteria’s for the O1A visa.

If you have won an award equal to a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal than you can automatically qualify for the O1A visa category.

If you have not won any awards such as the Nobel Prize and Olympic Medal than you must meet at least 3 out of 8 criteria’s set by the USCIS the criteria’s are:

  1. AwardsFull-Text Statute “Documentation of the alien’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.” 8 CFR 214.2( O)( 3)( iii)(B)( 1).
  2. Associations– Full-Text Statute “Documentation of the alien’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B(2).
  3. News Media–  Full-Text Statute “Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(3).
  4. Judge Full-Text Statute “Evidence of the alien’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought.” 8 CFR 214.2( O)( 3)( iii)( B)( 4).
  5. Contributions– Full-Text Statute “Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field.” 8 CFR 214.2( O)( 3)( iii)( B)( 5).
  6. Authorship Full-Text Statute “Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.” 8 CFR 214.2(O) (3) (iii) (B) (6).
  7. Organizations– Full-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.” 8CFR 214.2( O)( 3)( iii)( B)( 7).
  8. Salary– Full-Text Statute “Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.” 8CFR 214.2( O)( 3)( iii)( B)( 8).

*They are not too much of the same, so it is best to follow the links to look at each criterion break down one by one. When there are similarities, you are going to see a little repetition.

The following is a list of available documents that you may include in the O1A visa petition. The list is not complete, and exact details relating to your application should be discussed with an attorney. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case.

  1. Copy of Passport I.D. Page;
  2. Copy of U.S. Visa I.D. Page (if applicable);
  3. Copy of I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (if applicable);
  4. Original I-20’s or DS-2019’s for F1, M1, and J1 visa holders (if applicable):
  5.  Resume/CV;

Recommended Evidence

  1. Affidavits, agreements, awards, and similar documentation reflecting the nature of your achievement, executed by the person in charge of the institution, firm, establishment, or organization where prior work was performed;
  2. Affidavits that are written by present or former employers or recognized experts certifying to the recognition and extraordinary ability;
  3. Evidence establishing that the position requires the services of an individual with the extraordinary ability of achievement
  4. Documented evidence proving that the services primarily involve a scientific or educational project, conference, convention, lecture, or exhibit sponsored by bona fide scientific or educational organizations or establishments;
  5. Documented evidence proving that the services to be performed consist of a business project that is appropriate for an extraordinary executive, manager, or highly technical person due to the complexity of the business project;

How to apply for the O1A visa?

During the O1A visa application process, you and your petitioner need to take several steps to make sure you have all the required evidence to send to the USCIS. The application process starts with a petitioner, so without someone willing to sponsor you, there is no chance of getting the O1A visa.

Once you find a petitioner they must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers along with all the documents proving that you have extraordinary abilities and that you fulfill the requirements for the O1A visa. You must also apply at least 45 days before your employment begins. The filing fees for the visa are $460 and this must be paid by you. USCIS will take 2 to 6 weeks to review your case and then will send your petitioner an approval or denial letter. If your case is approved, you will get Form I-797, Notice of Action. When USCIS approves the petition, your petitioner has completed their duties. Now it is up to you to continue the application process.

File Form DS-160

Form DS-160 is an online form used for all applicants for nonimmigrant visas. The form has questions regarding your personal information and background, your purpose, and intent for visiting the U.S as well as other screening questions to test whether you are eligible for the visa you intend to apply. You must fill this form, and once submitted, you will get a confirmation page and code which you will need later on in the application process.

Pay the visa fee

The application fee for the O1A visa is $190. You must pay this fee and any other applicable fees to the embassy in your country. After you have paid your fees, you can continue with your application. You must show a receipt to prove you have completed your payments to the Officer at the embassy.

Schedule your visa interview

Next, you must schedule your interview at the Embassy in your country. After you have scheduled your appointment, you will get an interview confirmation letter. You must bring that letter with you on the day of the interview. Along with your compiled file the necessary documents to prove your case. This file includes:

  1. Your valid passport
  2. A photograph according to the Photo Requirements
  3. The DS-160 confirmation code
  4. The visa interview letter
  5. The receipts that you have paid all fees
  6. The Form I-797
  7. Proof that you have a job in the U.S (such as a letter from your employer, a contract, )
  8. Proof that you have extraordinary abilities (this should be the same proof that your employer has handed into USCIS)
  9. If you are planning to bring your family, you must submit proof of your relationship to them (marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificates for your children).

Attend your interview

Bring all your documents with you to the U.S Embassy on the day of your interview. You will be asked various questions about your background and what your plans are in the U.S. The interview in an important part in the application process, so try to answer correctly.

How long is the O1A visa valid?

The initial time that the Embassy will grant the O1A visa for is three years. During these three years, you can work in the U.S and you can travel in and out of the country as much as you need to. Just make sure you have your Form I-94 with you to grant you entrance into the country.

Can I get a Green Card with an O-1A visa?

Going from an O1A visa to a Green Card is possible. Since you have proven that you have extraordinary abilities for the O1A visa, you qualify for the Green Card EB-1 which is for people who have high achievements and education. By applying for this type of Green Card, you have a higher chance of getting your permanent citizenship in the U.S.

Can I bring my dependents with an O-1A visa?

Yes, you are allowed to bring your dependents in the U.S when you are on an O-1A visa. Dependents who qualify are your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old. They can apply for the O-3 visa which is for dependents. With the O-3 visa, they are allowed to enroll in the full or part-time study, but they cannot work. When your O-1A visa is extended, they also have to apply for extensions, and if you get the Green Card, they will also get this benefit.

If you need assistance or more information about the O1A visa please contact us and we will answer your questions and point you in the right direction. Start saving today. Info@visasforcreativeartsit.com.