O-1 Non-Immigrant Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

America has always attracted the world’s best and brightest. The O-1 visa was created to allow applicants from the top of their particular fields to come to America to work.

To qualify for an O-1, we must show that the applicant has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. Alternatively, we can show that the applicant has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television productions.

Do I have to be a scientist or a movie star to apply for an O-1 visa?

No. O-1 visas have been granted for individuals who are extraordinary in all types of fields, including medical doctors, novelists, chefs, people who work with precious metals, animal trainers, specialized mechanics, and hairstylists, etc. Basically, every field of endeavor has its top 1% – that top 1% are the people that can qualify for the O-1.

How long does an O-1 visa last?

An O-1 visa lasts for three years, with the possibility of repeated renewals.

Do I have to have won a major internationally-recognized award such as the Nobel Prize or an Oscar in order to qualify for an O-1 visa?

The short answer is no, but we will need to show that you are at the top of your field. We will work with you to help accumulate sufficient evidence to show that you have extraordinary ability or achievement that sets you apart from others in your field.

If I get an O-1 visa, can I apply for a green card?

The majority of O-1 visa holders will eventually be eligible to apply for a green card, so after your O-1 is approved and you arrive in the United States, talk to us about the next steps if you are interested in applying for a green card.

What about my assistant?

If the O-1 principal applicant’s field of endeavor is artistic or athletic performance, then it may be possible to bring critical support staff to the United States to assist the principal applicant. This support staff can work for the principal O-1 applicant while he or she is in the United States. The support staff will receive something called an O-2 visa.

What about my family?

The spouse and children of an O-1 principal applicant or an O-2 derivative applicant can receive derivative visas as well, which are called O-3 visas. They are not permitted to work while they are in the United States.