The O-1A visa is available for individuals of extraordinary ability in
the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. The O-1B visa is
available for individuals in motion picture or TV production. Both classifications
are temporary in nature and reserved for very accomplished individuals.
General Requirements for the O Visa
O-1A individuals in the sciences, education, business, or athletics must
prove their extraordinary ability has been demonstrated by sustained national
or international acclaim, which may be demonstrated by either receipt
of a major internationally recognized award, or by showing at least 3
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards;
- Membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievement;
- Published materials about the individual in professional or major trade
- Judgment of the work of others;
- Original scientific or scholarly work of major significance in the field;
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly work;
- Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity at an organization
with a distinguished reputation; or
- Has commanded or will command a high salary in relation to others in the field.
O-1A artists must show that they are distinguished, meaning they have a
high level of achievement in the field of arts evidenced by a degree of
skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.
O-1B individuals must prove they have a demonstrated record of extraordinary
achievement that have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.
The individual must be outstanding, notable, and a leader in the field.
The individual must seek to enter the United States for the purpose of
continuing work in the area of extraordinary ability or achievement, but
there is no requirement that the actual position requires a person of
O-2 visas are available for persons accompanying an assisting an O-1A artist
or athlete, but the O-2 applicant must prove they are an integral part
of the performance/event, have critical skill and experience that cannot
be performed by other individuals, and have a foreign residence that they
have no intention of abandoning.
Derivative Benefits and Time Limits
The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany the
principal O visa holder to the United States in O-3 status. However, O-3’s
may not accept employment.
The admission times for O-1 beneficiaries vary based upon the purpose for
which they intend to enter the United States. However, the Attorney General
may grant O-1 status for up to 3 years. Further, O-1 status can be continually
renewed and does not have a cap.
A U.S. employer must file an I-129 petition on behalf of an O visa seeker.
In certain circumstances where the individual will be working for multiple
employers or at multiple events, an agent may petition on behalf of the
Upon approval of the I-129 petition, the beneficiary may change their status
(if within the United States) or seek a visa at the appropriate consulate
O-1 visa holders have the benefit of “dual intent” and may
seek permanent residency without jeopardizing their O-1 status.