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O-1 Visa – Extraordinary Ability

O-1 visa is reserved to persons who have "extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim." The O-1 applicants must demonstrate that they intend to come to the United States temporarily and continue to work in their field of endeavor qualifying them under O-1 visa category.

According to 8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(o)(3)(ii), extraordinary ability in science, education, business or athletics is defined as "a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor." On the other hand, extraordinary ability in the arts means "distinction", and is defined as "a high level of achievement in the field of arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts."

According to 8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(o)(3)(iii):

Beneficiary may prove sustained national or international acclaim by receipt of a major internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize, or at least 3 of the following documentation:

  1. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards in the field of endeavor;
  2. Membership in organization that requires outstanding achievement, as judged by experts in the field;
  3. Published materials about the alien in professional or major trade publications, relating to alien's work;
  4. Alien's participation on a panel, as a judge of the work of others;
  5. Alien's original scientific, scholarly, or business related work of major significance in the field;
  6. Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field;
  7. Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations that have a distinguished reputation;
  8. Alien has commanded or will command a high salary, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

If the applicant for O-1 classification cannot provide any of the documents listed above he can still show some comparable evidence by providing other related documents. O-1 applicant may prove sustained or international acclaim in his field of endeavor by use of affidavits from previous employers and experts in the field, as well as showing contracts for projects completed.

A consultation letter or written advisory opinion from an appropriate union in the field of endeavor is required to accompany the O-1 petition. This advisory opinion letter confirms the qualifications of the applicant and describes the achievements of the applicant in his field of endeavor. O-2 applicants who are the essential personnel accompanying the O-1 applicants must also include separate advisory opinions in their petitions.

The O-1 applicants are admitted initially for not more than (3) three years. There is no time limit for extension of stay in O-1 category as long as the applicant can show at the time of the extension request that there are new projects to be completed in his field of endeavor. The employer or the petitioner is responsible for the return expenses of the applicant to his home country upon his work termination.

Dependents (spouses and children) of the O-1 principal applicants are issued the O-3 visas, subject to the same duration of stay as their principals. Spouses and children of the O-1 principals cannot accept employment unless they have been granted an employment authorization.



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