O-1: Individuals of Extraordinary Ability

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Key Takeaways from This Page:

1) The O-1 is generally a quick way to get up to 3 years of work authorization.

2) The O-1 petitioner must meet at least 3 of the 10 listed regulatory requirements.

3) The O-1 petitioner must have a U.S. employer sponsor. 

4) O-1 adjudication times are generally just a few months and Premium Processing is available which will result in some action within 15 calendar days.

What is the O-1 Petition?

O-1 visa is a non-immigrant status category for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts (including the television and motion picture industry), education, business, or athletics which allows qualified aliens to live and work in the United States temporarily. O-1 petitions must be sponsored by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent on behalf of the beneficiary. It is similar in many ways to the EB-1A petition category, but does not result in permanent residence.
 

What Types Of O-1 Petitions Are There?

There are two basis types of O-1 petitions that act as the primary beneficiary of this petition class:

O-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics; and

O-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or the extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

There are also two other O based classes that act as derivative beneficiaries of the O-1 petitioner:

O-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 individual to assist in a specific event or performance; and

O-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s.

An approved O petition will be valid within the approved timeframe. This date is not to exceed the date which USCIS has determined to be necessary to complete the work-related event or activity the alien is in the United States to do. The initial period of stay for O status is up to 3 years.  Extensions may be granted in 1-year increments, indefinitely.

Who Can Petition For An O-1 Petition?

An O-1 petition must be sponsored by an employer or agent in the US for an alien when a work related event (employment) or group of activities require he or she to travel to the United States on a temporary basis. This can be "an activity such as, but not limited to: a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture, series, tour, exhibit, business project, academic year, or engagement.”  

What Are The Requirements For the O-1 petition? 

There are several very specific requirements that a petitioner must meet in order to be qualified under this petition category. The juxtaposition of the different sources of authority can be summarized as follows for the main criteria that must be met to make a prima facia showing of qualification for the O-1petition category:

A. For Aliens seeking to qualify in the sciences, education, business, and athletics.

The beneficiary must show that they are are at the top of their respective field. This can be established through evidence of receipt of a major, internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize. In absence of such an award one can establish himself as a qualifying alien through at least three (3) of the following types of evidence:

1. Documentation of membership in associations in the field of endeavor which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their fields;

2. Published material in professional or major trade publication or in the major media about the alien and relating to the alien's work in the field of endeavor;

3. Evidence of participation as a judge (individually or as a part of a panel) of the work of others in the alien's field;

4. Evidence of scientific, scholarly, or business related contributions of major significance in the field of endeavor;

5. Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals or other major media;

6. Evidence of performance in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations;

7. Documentation of receipt of lesser nationally (not necessarily U.S.) or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;

8. Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others; and

9. Other comparable evidence

B. For Aliens in the arts, motion pictures, or television.

For the arts, the alien must show that he has acquired "distinction" in his artistic field which means a high level of achievement as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person.

For individuals in the motion picture or television industry, it must be shown that they have a very high level of accomplishment evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered.

To illustrate the above, the beneficiary can do the following:

Establish qualification through evidence of nomination or receipt of a major, national or international recognized award such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director's Guild Award. In absence of such an award one can establish himself as a qualifying alien through at least three (3) of the following types of evidence:

1. Having been or will be performing a lead or starring role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation (as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, press releases, publications contracts, or endorsements;

2. Critical reviews or other published material in professional or major trade publication or in the major media by or about the alien which show that the alien has achieved national or international recognition or achievements;

3. Evidence of performance in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations;

4. Evidence of a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

5. Evidence of significant recognition for achievements form organizations, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field;

6. Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others; or

7. Other comparable evidence.

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