The O1 visa is designated for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. The O1 visa is very helpful for artists, athletes, entertainers, high-end chefs, and business people lacking professional degrees. There is no prevailing wage requirement, the O1 visa may be extended indefinitely and there is no numerical limit to the number of O1 visas issued.
The O1 visa is a good option for J1 visa holders who are subject to INA §212(E) and have not obtained a waiver.
Scientists, educators, business persons and athletes who wish to qualify for the visa must show three of the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes/awards for excellence in the field;
- Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien;
- Participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization;
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance;
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
- Current or previous employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or,
- Past or proffered high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.
Artists and Entertainers (except TV or movie stars) who wish to qualify for the visa must show three of the following:
- as performed/will perform services as a lead/starring participant in productions/events with distinguished reputations as shown by critical reviews, ads, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
- National/international recognition for achievement through critical reviews, other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major papers, trade journals/magazines, etc.;
- Has performed in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by media articles, testimonials, etc.;
- Has record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success;
- Has achieved significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, recognized experts;
- Has commanded or will command a high salary/other remuneration in relation to others in the field.
Artists and Entertainers in connection with TV or Movies who wish to qualify for the visa must show a very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the motion picture or television field.
Spouses and children of the O1 visa holder may obtain an O3 visa to enter and remain in the US. The O3 visa holder may attend school but if he or she wishes to work, he or she must change his or her status to obtain a work visa.