O1 Visa

O-1 | The Visa of Extraordinary People

What is an O-1 Visa?

If you are an artist, scientist, or athlete who wants to work in the United States, the O-1 visa is probably right for you. This visa allows people with “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or sport to come to the United States to work.

But what exactly does that mean? What are the requirements to obtain an O-1 visa? And what does this visa cover? In this blog post, we’ll answer all of those questions and more.

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The O-1 visa is perhaps the most versatile nonimmigrant category, as it encompasses a broad spectrum of potential beneficiaries, but it is also demanding in that all successful applicants are required to demonstrate "extraordinary ability" in the sciences, arts, entertainment, education, business, or athletics.

Due to its versatility, this type of visa allows plenty of room for creativity in creating a successful petition. O-1 visa applicants must be leaders or high achievers in their field and be recognized as such by their peers.

For example, one of the requirements in an O-1 petition is an advisory opinion from an appropriate oversight entity, such as a peer group, labor organization, or business organization, demonstrating the extraordinary abilities of the petitioner.

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.

An advantage of the O visa is that there is no maximum period of stay, which is a limitation for the P-1 visa since the length of the status is determined by the length of time necessary for the alien to perform their functions or activities. with the applicant’s employer.

An initial stay is limited to no more than three years, provided the applicant can demonstrate that the O-1 will have that long for the proposed job.

This timeframe may be extended by one-year increments thereafter, and O-1 visa status may be used as a platform for an application for a green card and then permanent residence.

What Are The Requirements For The O-1 Visa?*

To be considered as a foreigner with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, athletics, or business, the foreign applicant must demonstrate international level in their discipline, through a complete documented accreditation of their condition. Generally, the applicant must have received prizes or awards of international category such as the Nobel Prize, or meet a series of requirements that may be, among others:

  • Relevant contributions related to science, academia, or business.
  • Authorship of articles of an academic nature in their discipline and published in professional publications.
  • High income and other benefits from your activity.
  • Belonging to professional associations that demand outstanding achievements from their members.
  • Accredit having received prizes and awards of national or international recognition.
  • It is also valid to prove that you are the author of debates of an academic nature in top-level media.

*This information corresponds to September 2022


Además, para poder solicitar una visa O-1, el solicitante debe estar patrocinado por una compañía o un agente en los Estados Unidos.

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 the following:

  • Received recognition such as the Pulitzer Prize or an Olympic medal.
  • He received an award for excellence in any of those fields.
  • Published articles or papers for your specific field.
  • I contribute original research in any of the fields mentioned above.
  • You are a member of a highly distinguished association or organization that requires its members to have high professional achievements.
  • You have judged the contribution of others in your field.
  • He has been paid a high salary for his skills and contribution.
  • Unlike the fields 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.


A diferencia de los campos anteriores, si desea presentar una solicitud y trabajar en el campo de las artes con una visa O-1, puede hacerlo si tiene algún papel principal o de apoyo en la creación de una obra de arte.


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.

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

    • 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.
    • 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.


In addition to demonstrating extraordinary ability, you must also demonstrate that you are coming to the United States to work in your area of expertise. This means that he must be able to show that he has a job or a contract to work in the United States. If you do not have a job or contract, you can still get an Ol visa if you can show that you are coming to the United States to participate in a competition or event related to your area of expertise.

Once you have fulfilled these requirements, you can begin the process of applying for an Ol visa. The first step is to submit an application form, which you can do online. You will also need to submit supporting documentation, such as evidence of your extraordinary ability and evidence of your plans to work in the United States.

Once you have submitted your application, it will be reviewed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your application is approved, you will be issued an Ol visa.

The Ol visa allows you to stay in the United States for up to three years. He can extend his stay for two more years if he shows that he continues to work in his area of expertise. The Ol visa does not allow you to bring family members to the United States. However, your spouse or partner may be eligible for a dependent visa, which would allow them to live and work in the United States while you are on an Ol visa. It has to be done through an employer or sponsor in the US. The sponsor, whether an individual or a company, must petition the individual stating that she wants him to come to the United States to work for/with the sponsor. It can be granted for a maximum initial term of 3 years but it can be extended. This term is tied to the term of time that you are interested in working in the United States.

Nonimmigrant Classification OR

O-1A: Individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures, or television industry);

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

O-2: Persons accompanying an O-1 artist or athlete to attend a specific event or performance; Y

O-3: Persons who are spouses or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

What Documentation Do I Need For An O-1 Visa?

  • Passport copy
  • Copy of form I-94
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copies of study certificates
  • Transcripts or notes from the University
  • licenses
  • Resumes
  • Letter from the employer in support of visa or visa extension

USCIS Criteria for Granting the O-1A Visa*

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

  • OR evidence of at least three (3) of the following:
  • Have received awards of national or international recognition or awards for excellence in the field of performance.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Significant original contributions from the field of performance, whether academic or business.
  • Authorship Of Scholarly Articles In Professional Journals Or Other Major Media In The Field For Which Classification Is Requested
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services demonstrated in contracts or other reliable evidence.
  • 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.
  • Employment In A Critical Or Essential Capacity For Organizations And Establishments That Have A Distinguished Reputation.


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 September 2022

What Is The Process To Obtain An O-1 Visa?

Stage 1:

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.

Stage 2: Consultation

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.

Stage 3: 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


0-1 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.

visa h1b1


The petitioner must submit a written advisory opinion from a group of colleagues (including labor organizations) or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ​​expertise. If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary achievement in film or television, the inquiry must come from an appropriate union and management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ​​expertise.


When a query includes a watermark or other distinctive marking to confirm the authenticity of the document, petitioners must submit to USCIS the version containing the watermark or other distinctive marking. Copies of documents that do not contain the watermark or other appropriate distinguishing marks may cast doubt on the authenticity of the document and lead to processing delays. For example, USCIS may request that the petitioner submit the original version of the document. To avoid processing delays, petitioners must ensure that they submit the proper version and that any associated watermarks or other distinctive marks are legible.


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; Y

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.

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:  https://www.uscis.gov/forms

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 0-1 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 01 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.