O-1 VISAS FOR PERSONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
O-1 visas are available for a person who "has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim". The achievements of all O-1 visas beneficiaries must be "recognized in the field through extensive documentation". O-1visa beneficiaries need a petitioner US employer.
O-1 visas are a useful alternative to H-1B since there is no need to document prevailing wage, no annual cap and no overall time limit in this classification.
The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
- O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry
- O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
- O-2: individuals who will accompany 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 readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential
to the successful performance of the O-1
- O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s
"Extraordinary ability" in this subcategory means "a level of expertise indicating that the person is in one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field endeavor". The law specifies that evidence of "extraordinary ability" is either the receipt of an internationally recognized award (eg, Nobel Prize) or evidence of at least three of the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prices or awards for excellence in the field;
- Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by national or international experts;
- Published material in the profession or major trade publications or major media about the alien;
- Participation on panel or as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization;
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance;
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
- Current or previous employment in a critical or essential capacity for an organization and establishment that have a distinguished reputation;
- High salary or other remuneration evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.
O-1 petitions must also contain a written advisory opinion from an appropriate union or peer group, describing the beneficiary's ability or achievements in the field and the duties performed.
These standards are also used when filing a First Preference employment-based permanent residence petition (EB-1) for individuals of extraordinary ability.
O-1 aliens may have dual intent which allows them to work in the US temporarily while seeking permanent residence.