Immigration Law for Founders, Talent and Investors.

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Do you have “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, education, business, or athletics? If so, you might qualify for an O-1 visa to temporarily visit the United States to work in your field.

You must demonstrate “sustained national or international acclaim” to receive an O-1A visa. You also need to show that you intend to work in your field of extraordinary ability when you come to the US. Is there an assignment, performance or event that requires your presence here?

To qualify, you will need to document proof of your extraordinary ability and that you are at the very top of your field of endeavor. You will need a petitioner, which can either be an employer or an agent. You will need to get an advisory opinion and recommendations from experts in your field.

Criteria for O-1A Visa

To demonstrate extraordinary ability, you must have received a major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize; or you must establish that you meet at least three of the following criteria:

    1. Nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    2. Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
    3. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about you, relating to your work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;
    4. Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization;
    5. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance;
    6. Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
    7. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
    8. Evidence that you have either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

See 8 CFR §214.2(o)(3)(iii)(B).

The initial O-1 petition can be approved for up to three years, depending on the extent of your engagements in the US. If you have a continuing need to engage in long-term assignments, projects, or a group of related performances or activities, you might be able to receive extensions indefinitely.

Currently, USCIS does not cap the number of O visas that are available each year, unlike some other categories of temporary visas.

If you are in athletics, your support personnel might be eligible to enter the US on an O-2 Visa. Your spouse and dependent children might qualify for O-3 visas.


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Next Steps

  • $325: base fee
  • $1,225: Premium processing service fee

  • Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative
  • Form I-907 Premium Processing Service
  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
  • O and P Classifications Supplement to Form I-129
  1. Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (file at least 45 days before date of employment)
  2. I-797 Fee Receipt Notice
  3. I-797 Approval Notice
  4. Notify Consulate/Change Status/Extension of Stay
  5. Visa – Foreign worker must obtain a visa (except Canadians)

Immigrant intent: “Dual”

OK to simultaneously seek permanent residence (green card)

2 weeks

  • Employers and Employees
  • Talented Individuals
  • Initial petition: up to 3 years depending on the length of your engagement
  • Unlimited extensions