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.”

The petitioner can be a sponsoring employer or an agent. 

On this page we describe the general requirements.

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. 

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

Extraordinary ability for the O-1B “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.

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 ad 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.

INA §101(a)(15)(O)8 CFR §214.2(o)

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