US O1 Visa for Foreign Nationals with Extraordinary Ability

The O visa classification is for the individuals, who possess extraordinary abilities and who have some well-recognized achievements to their credit, and their families. It enables the intellectuals and achievers of certain fields to visit the US, stay over there for an initial period of three years enhance their skills and knowledge while contributing well to their respective fields.

The O-1 visa is divided into two types. The first type, called O-1A is designated for the people who own extraordinary capabilities in science, education, business or athletics. The second type, known as O-1B, is reserved for those who have some nationally and internationally acknowledged achievements in motion picture or film industry.

There is offered another visa of O series, called O-2. This visa is grated to the individuals who accompany an O-1A or O-1B person to assist him/her in the completion of certain tasks. Before issuing visa, the USCIS makes it sure that the accompanying individuals have some essential and significant roles to play.

For the spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders to travel to the US, there is available a separate visa O-3.

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that the O series of visas is non-immigrant, thus, the applicants, have to demonstrate clearly before their resident US consulates that they have no overt or covert intention to overstay in America or pursue green cards.

To qualify for the O-1 visas, the applicants must have extraordinary and high-profile achievements to their credit. They must have made themselves realized distinctively both at national and international levels.

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To apply for this visa, a person with extraordinary ability needs to fill up the Form I-129, Petition For Non Immigrant Worker, and submit it with the USCIS. In order to avoid delays in visa processing, the petitions must be filed at least one year ahead of the actual need.

The form must be accompanied by a written advisory opinion from some labor organization or a person who commands authority and expertise in the relevant field. A copy of the contract, signed or agreed between an employer and an employee (petition and beneficiary) should also be enclosed with the form. The contract should describe: what was offered by the employer? and what was accepted by the employee?

The visa petitioner, who would definitely be from the US, needs to demonstrate before the USCIS the nature, during and timeline of the events/activities a person with extraordinary abilities is being called for.

Either a US employer can directly file petition for O-1 visas or ask some agent to do this on its behalf. The agent can also demonstrate to be the actual or primary employer of the beneficiary. An agent can file petitions on behalf of multiple employers by showing that it is legally authorized to do so. In such cases, the agent will provide all supporting documents like copies of the contracts, signed between the agent and employers, and its legal status.

A beneficiary needs to submit evidences of any three of the following in order to get his/her visa application approved:

  • Receipts of nationally and internationally achieved prized and awards.
  • Certificate of membership in the associations that have some outstanding role in the relevant field of extraordinary ability.
  • Copies of the published material in some well-reputed magazines, research periodicals or newspapers.
  • Original scientific, business related or scholarly contributions.
  • Proof of a high salary or other remunerations gained on the basis of extraordinary ability.
  • Proof of participation as a panelist or judge in contests organized in the relevant field at national or international level.
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Once the visa petition is approved by the USCIS, the beneficiary can apply for the O-1 visa in the resident US consulate. He/she might be required to pay the visa processing fees, established by the US department of state.

An O-1 visa holder can stay in the US for a period of three years, however, the USCIS is authorized to extend the validity period up to one year by reviewed the nature of the task the person with extraordinary ability is entitled to perform.

If the employment of an O-1 visa holder is terminated, the employer will be responsible to pay all charges of the return transportation of the employee.


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