O-1 Visa

O-1 Visa for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability

The O-1 visa is a temporary work visa. It is intended for foreign nationals who have “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.”  Extraordinary ability means a high level of expertise in a particular field. This is proven through “sustained national or international acclaim.”

O-1A is for Extraordinary Ability in the fields of Science, Education, Business, or Athletics –

Extraordinary ability for the O-1A visa means the person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of their field. To qualify for an O-1B visa an applicant must establish 3 of the following prongs:

  • Awards. Nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  • Associations.  Membership in associations, which require outstanding achievements of their members.
  • Media or Press. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien.
  • Judge. Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others.
  • Original Contribution. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions.
  • Scholarly Articles.  Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.
  • Critical Capacity.  Employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  • Salary. Commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services.
  • Comparable Evidence. Any other evidence that may be used in order to establish eligibility.

O-1B is for Extraordinary Ability in the Arts –

Extraordinary ability for the O-1B is “distinction.” Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of arts. This may be evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. Thus, distinction means the person is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts. 

To qualify for an O-1B visa an applicant must establish 3 of the following prongs:

  • Leading Role or Star in Distinguished Production: 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.
  • National or International Recognition:  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.
  • Lead, Starring, or Critical Role in Distinguished Organization: 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.
  • Commercial or Critical Acclaim:  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.
  • Recognition from Critics, Experts, Government Agencies: 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.
  • High Salary: A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

O-1 Visa Sponsor


The petitioner can be a sponsoring employer or an agent.

O-1 Visa versus H-1B

The O-1 is a great alternative to the H-1B, and can help pave the pathway for a Green Card in the EB-1 category, including through a self-petition process. Unlike the H-1B, the O-1 is not subject to an annual “Cap” for new applicants. Further, there is no limits on how many years an O-1 can continue to be extended. An O-1 applicant does not have to be paid a specific wage, and is not limited to a specialty occupation such as required for the H-1B. Please see our H-1B page for more details about that visa category.


Time Limitation

The O-1 Visa is typically granted for an initial stay of three years. However, the O-1 Visa may be extended in one year increments. Unlike other temporary non-immigrant visas, such as an H or L visa, there is no maximum length of stay in the U.S. for the O-1 Visa. 

Application Procedure and Time Limitations

A person cannot apply for an O-1 visa on their own behalf.  Generally, the employer or agent must petition for the alien with USIS. An O-1 visa may be granted for up to three years.  Finally, O-1 visa status may be renewed in one-year increments, or until the project is  finished.

Premium Processing for O-1

An O-1 applicant can pay an additional fee to USCIS and get expedited processing of their case. This is known as premium processing. With premium processing, USCIS must provide a decision or request additional evidence within 15 days. As of October 19, 2020, the premium processing fee is $2500.


MPLG’s O-1 Visa Attorneys Can Help You

MPLG attorneys prepare unique O-1 petitions and are responsive and attentive to the needs of each individual client. We use a collaborative process with the O-1 applicant in crafting substantive and persuasive letters of support. 

MPLG has significant experience with start-up founders and key personnel for O-1 petitions. 

You can access our O-1 Roadmap and take our Assessment to see if the O-1 is a good fit for you! MPLG is your O 1 visa attorney. Check out our O 1 visa document checklist.



INA §101(a)(15)(O); 8 CFR §214.2(o)

O-1 General

O-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability

Checkout Our QuickTakes on the O-1 Visa!