The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
- O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry), who is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of his or her field of endeavor;
- O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry;
- O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1;
- O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s.
Requirements for O-1A Status
To qualify for O-1A status, the individual must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
- Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field;
- Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought;
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought;
- A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
- Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same 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 submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.
Requirements for O-1B
To qualify for O-1B status, an individual must be recognized as being prominent in his or her field as demonstrated by evidence that the beneficiary has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements;
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
- Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements;
- A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility (this exception does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).
Other Documentary Evidence
The O-1 petitioner should also submit the following documentary evidence:
- Consultation: a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. If the O-1 petition is for an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.
o Exception: If the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, does not exist the decision will be based on the evidence of record. A consultation may be waived for an alien with extraordinary ability in the field of arts if the alien seeks readmission to perform similar services within 2 years of the date of a previous consultation. Petitioners should submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation with the petition.
- Contract between petitioner and beneficiary: a copy of any written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed.
o Note:USCIS will accept an oral contract, as evidenced by the summation of the elements of the oral agreement. Such evidence may include but is not limited to: emails between the contractual parties, a written summation of the terms of the agreement, or any other evidence which demonstrates that an oral agreement was created;
- The summary of the terms of the oral agreement must contain (1) what was offered by the employer, and (2) what was accepted by the employee
- The summary does not have to be signed by both parties to establish the oral agreement. However, it must document the terms of the employment offered and that the beneficiary has agreed to the offer.
- Itineraries: an explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for 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 the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary ability for the validity period requested, e.g. an itinerary for a tour or a series of events.