O-1 visa

The O-1 Visa is tailored for individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements in fields such as arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics. If you're at the pinnacle of your profession and seek to make a significant impact, this visa is designed for you.

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O-1 Visa

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Creativity, recognition, and employment proof

Peer letters and employment proof

When no such peer group exists, for example, in the case of tattoo artists or CEOs of speedboat manufacturers (both cases successfully brought by CSA), then peer letters are necessary to establish the special position of the beneficiary in the specific industry.

Proof of possible employment is usually achieved through a copy of the employment contract and a description of the work to be performed.

Proving extraordinary ability

So how do you show that you have some kind of extraordinary ability in science, business, education, or athletics?

Please note if you have done three of the following:

  • Received recognition such as the Pulitzer Prize or an Olympic medal.
  • Received an award for excellence in the fields of sciences, education, business, athletics, arts, motion pictures, or television.
  • Published articles or papers in your specific area.
  • Contributed original research in any of the fields mentioned above.
  • Are a member of a highly distinguished association or organization that requires its members to have high professional achievements.
  • Judge the contribution of others in the field.
  • Have been paid a high salary for your skills and contribution.
  • Unlike the mentioned categories above, if you want to apply and work in the field of arts on an O-1 visa, you may do so if you have any leading or supporting role in creating a piece of art.
  • Proving extraordinary ability

    Behind the scenes: O-1 visa journey for artists

    This can be in fine or visual arts, performing arts, culinary arts, etc. Additionally, those who support the main act of an art project qualify, such as sound designers, orchestrators, costume designers, stage technicians, etc.

    To qualify for the O-1 visa as an artist, you must meet at least one of these conditions

    If you have verified these requirements and meet any of them, then you must provide proof to your employer. Your employer will have to prove that you have the extraordinary ability by submitting the test you gave them access to.


    Having won a highly acclaimed awards such as a Grammy, an Oscar, an Emmy, etc.


    You will be a leading person in a production or event that has been reviewed by critics.


    Has been featured in review magazines, newspapers, and other publications for his excellent performances.


    Has been a part of highly reviewed production parts that have high ratings, box office receipts, etc.


    Has had a high salary for his services compared to others in his field.

    Nonimmigrant classification OR


    Individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures, or television industry);


    Individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry


    Persons accompanying an O-1 artist or athlete to attend a specific event or performance


    Persons who are spouses or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders

    What documentation do I need for an O-1 visa?


    Form I-129


    Form DS-160


    Advisory letter


    A copy of the written work contract


    Proof of your extraordinary abilities or achievements




    Interview Appointment Letter


    Picture of yourself


    I-797 Approval Notice from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services


    Proof you have paid the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee

    Get guidance and assistance in your application process

    USCIS criteria for granting the O-1A visa*

    Nobel prize recognition

    Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major award, internationally recognized as the Nobel Prize

    OR evidence of at least
    three of the following:

    Media recognition

    Published material in professional publications, newspapers, or other major media about the recipient and the recipient’s work in the field for which classification is sought.

    Scholarly publication recognition

    Authorship Of Scholarly Articles In Professional Journals Or Other Major Media In The Field For Which Classification Is Requested

    Distinguished association membership

    Be a member of associations in the field for which classification is sought that require outstanding achievement, judged by recognized national or international experts in the field of performance.

    Award-winning excellence

    Have received awards of national or international recognition or awards for excellence in the field of performance.

    Innovative contributions

    Significant original contributions from the field of performance, whether academic or business.

    High-salary achievement

    A high salary or other remuneration for services demonstrated in contracts or other reliable evidence.

    Field expert judging

    Participation on a panel, or an individual basis, as a judge of the work of others in the same field or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought.

    If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation,
    the petitioner may present comparable evidence to establish eligibility.

    *This information corresponds to April 2024

    What is the process to obtain an O-1 visa?


    I-129 petition

    The petitioner must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS department listed in the form instructions.

    Form I-129 must be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment, and may be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien’s services.



    A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiary field.

    If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary film or television cinematographic achievement, the inquiry must come from an appropriate union and management organization with experience in the beneficiary’s field.


    Contract between petitioner and beneficiary

    A copy of any written contract, or a summary of an oral contract or agreement between the petitioner and the beneficiary.

    O-1 visa application process

    A US employer, a US agent, or a foreign employer through a US agent must file (see Form 1-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) on your behalf, along with any required evidence according to the instructions on the form.

    Your employer or agent cannot file the petition more than one year before you need their services. To avoid delays, your employer or agent must file Form I-129 at least 45 days before your date of employment.

    O-1 visa application process

    Start your journey towards employment in the United States

    Exceptions to the
    consultation requirement

    If your employer or agent can show that there is no appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, then we will base our decision on the evidence they submit in support of Form I-129.

    We may waive a consultation if you have extraordinary ability in the field of the arts and are applying for readmission to perform similar services within two years of the date of the prior consultation.

    Your employer or agent must submit a request for exemption and a copy of the previous consultation with the request.

    For more information on inquiries for O nonimmigrants, see the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 2, Part M, Chapter 7.


    The petitioner must explain the nature of the events or activities, the start and end dates of the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities, if applicable.

    The petitioner must establish that there are events or activities in their field of the extraordinary capacity for the requested validity period, such as an itinerary for a tour or series of events.


    A US agent can be your actual employer, your and the employer’s representative, or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or on behalf of, the employer as your agent. Detailed information on USCIS policy regarding agent petitioners can be found in the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 2, Part M, Chapter 3.

    Evidence demonstrating O-1 eligibility

    The petitioner must provide evidence demonstrating his extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, education, or sport, or his extraordinary achievements in the film industry.

    The file must include at least three different types of documentation that correspond to those listed in the regulations, or comparable evidence in certain circumstances, and the evidence must, taken together, demonstrate that you meet the relevant standards for classification.

    Detailed information about how USCIS evaluates evidence to determine eligibility and whether to come to the United States for further work in the area of ​​extraordinary ability can be found in the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 2, Part M, Chapter 4.

    Extension of stay

    If you need to extend your stay to continue or complete the same event or activity, your employer or agent must file the following documents with USCIS:

  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker;
  • A copy of your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record;
  • A statement explaining the reasons for the extension.

  • To help us process your request, the statement must describe the event or activity that was the basis for the original approval and confirm that the extension is necessary for you to continue or complete the same event or activity described.
    Your spouse and children must file Form I-539, Application for Extension/Change of nonimmigrant status, and submit all supporting documents to extend your stay.
    For more information, see our page on Form I-539.

    Information to keep in mind


    Being a client of Visa Franchise requires having an advanced level of English and/or Spanish and/or, in limited cases, Mandarin.


    Although Visa Franchise strives to meet all the needs and requests of its clients, opportunities for non-intermediate English speakers seeking full-time work are extremely limited due to a specific requirement from the franchisor(s) to conduct all franchise discovery and operational processes in English.

    Change of employer

    If you are an O-1 nonimmigrant in the United States and want to change employers, the new employer must file Form I-129 with the USCIS office listed in the instructions for the form. If an agent filed your original petition, your new employer must file an amended petition with proof that it is your new employer and a request for an extension of stay.

    A material change in terms and conditions of employment

    If there have been any material changes, other than the addition of additional performances or commitments requiring someone of extraordinary ability, in the terms and conditions of your employment or eligibility, your employer or agent must file an amended Form I-129 at the service center where the original request was filed


    There are special rules for professional athletes with O-1. If you are transferred from one team to another, employment authorization will continue with the new team for 30 days, during which time the new employer must file a new Form I-129. Filing the new Form I-129 within these 30 days extends your employment authorization at least until we process your petition.

    If the new employer does not file a new Form I-129 within 30 days of the exchange, you lose your employment authorization. You will also lose your employment authorization if we reject your new Form I-129.

    Return transportation

    If your employer terminates your employment for reasons other than your voluntary resignation, you must pay the reasonable cost of transportation back to your last place of residence before entering the United States. If an agent filed the petition for the employer, the agent, and the employer are equally responsible for paying these costs.

    What are the filing costs of the USCIS
    immigration service in the United States?

    The USCIS department fee for form I-129. Additionally, if you want to request expedited
    processing (“Premium Processing), you must pay the fee for form I-907.

    Click the link below to check the US Immigration Service fees as they change regularly:

    How long does it take to process the O-1 visa?

    After you have completed your interview, you will need to wait for the visa to be processed. The usual O-1 visa processing time is two to three months.

    O-Ill visa holders may study in the United States, but may not work unless they obtain separate employment authorization.

    If you think you may qualify for an O-1 visa, we encourage you to speak with an experienced immigration attorney who can evaluate your case and help you navigate the O visa application process.

    Applying for an O visa can be complex, and it’s important to make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements.

    Proving extraordinary ability

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