Unlike other work visa categories which are subject to strict numerical limitations, or where visa issuance is restricted due to executive orders, the O-1work visa remains a flexible alternative to those who meet the requirements. It is also available to individuals who have been in J-1 status, but are subject to the two year home residence requirement and thus barred from other types of work visas such as the H-1B or L-1.
There are two main types of O-1 visa, the O-1A and O-1B.
O-1A for Persons with “Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Education, Business or Athletics”
To qualify, an individual must demonstrate that he or she has sustained national or international acclaim by receipt of a major internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize, or documenting at least 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 or major media about the beneficiary related to 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 or that the beneficiary will command 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
O-1B For Persons with Extraordinary Ability in the Arts or Extraordinary Achievement in Motion Pictures or Television
The criteria for the O-1B are the same for individuals in the arts and individuals working in motion pictures or television. However, the applicable standard is different. Individuals in the arts, unlike individuals in other fields, are subject to a slightly lower standard and must demonstrate that they are “prominent in their field of endeavor”. Individuals coming to work in motion pictures or television must demonstrate that they are “outstanding or notable” in that field.
Whether for the arts, or for motion pictures/television, to meet these requirements individuals must submit evidence that he or she 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.
- Demonstrated 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
- Commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence
In addition to satisfying the above requirements, applicants for both the O-1A and O-1B must also provide:
- An offer of employment or contract. Where appropriate, agents can act as the petitioner but in such cases a detailed itinerary of performances or engagements must be provided.
- An advisory opinion from the appropriate union or professional organization, if one exists.