O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa

United States Visa and Immigration Service O-1 VISA: EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY OR ACHIEVEMENT

Table of Contents

What is the O-1 Visa?

The 'O' visa is a temporary worker, non-immigrant visa for the United States. The O-1 Visa is intended for persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in their working career history. There is no quota on the number of applicants for an 'O' visa, with 83,000 entries in 2014, and no requirement to have a College bachelors degree like the H1-B visa. Applicants can apply for the US O-1 Visa in any of the following fields:

  • Sciences
  • Arts
  • Education
  • Business
  • Athletics
  • Extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, evidenced by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise.

What are the different types of 'O' Non-immigrant classifications?

  • O-1A - Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B - Extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
  • O-2 - Accompanying Individuals of 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 usually performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1
  • O-3 - Spouse or children of O-1's and O-2's

O-1 Visa Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for an O-1 visa, the visa applicant must demonstrate 'extraordinary ability' by sustained national or international acclaim. The beneficiary must be temporarily entering the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics - this is defined as a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage of workers who has risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.

Extraordinary ability in the field of arts - this is defined as 'distinction'. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the 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.

Letters of Recommendation

An O-1 applicant should usually prepare 5 -10 Letters of Recommendation for submission to the USCIS, with their application, as solid evidence of their extraordinary ability. The Letter should cover the following factors:

1. Basis of Expertise - Outline the expertise or authority of the person writing the letter of recommendation.

2. Relationship - The writer of the letter should state how they have known the O-1 applicant, and how they became familiar with their work.

3. Talent and Ability - The writer should focus on describing the visa applicant's 'talent', 'skill' and 'extraordinary ability', and give reasons why they have talent or ability.

4. Recognition and Accomplishments - Demonstrate how the applicant's career is different and unique from others in their field, and what sets them apart from others in the industry. The writer should specify any outstanding accomplishments or recognition in their field. For example, the applicant had a lead role in a very successful production.

5. Miscellaneous - Provide any other supplementary information that enhances credibility to the application, such as awards won or collaboration with famous artists.

6. Conclusion - Closing paragraph that provides reinforcement of the applicant's extraordinary value for the American cultural scene.