O-1A Visa FAQs

What are the Requirements for O-1A Visas – Individuals of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences?

The O-1A visa is a temporary nonimmigrant classification for individuals of extraordinary ability in the field of business, science, education or athletics. To be classified as an individual of extraordinary ability, the individual must be able to show a very high level of achievement as compared to other individuals in the same field. To apply for an O-1A visa, a Petitioner (i.e. sponsor) must submit the visa petition on the individual’s behalf. The Petitioner may act as the individual’s agent for multiple employers, as the agent employer of the individual, or as the sole employer of the individual.

The individual must provide an itinerary of scheduled events or activities, a non-objection letter from a related labor organization or peer group, and a contract between the Petitioner and individual. The individual must also provide ample evidence demonstrating that s/he meets at least three of the following criteria (unless s/he has received a major award such as a Nobel Prize):

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field;
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought that require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field;
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and 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 as evidenced by contracts or other evidence;
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization similar to the field for which classification is sought;
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

For someone who has reached the top of his/her field but who does not have a university degree, the O-1A may be a unique alternative to a traditional work visa such as an H-1B.

What are the Requirements for O-1B Visas – Individuals of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts?

The O-1B visa is for individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts, or motion picture or television industry. To be classified as an individual of extraordinary ability, one must be able to show a high level of distinction and national or international achievement as compared to other individuals in the same field. The standards for individuals seeking an O-1B visa based on extraordinary ability in the motion picture or television industry can be stricter than those for an O-1B visa in the arts. The definition of extraordinary ability in “the arts” is very broad and encompasses a wide variety of artistic and creative professions.

To apply for an O-1B visa, a Petitioner (i.e. sponsor) must submit the visa petition on the individual’s behalf. The Petitioner may act as the individual’s agent for multiple employers, as the agent employer of the individual, or as the sole employer of the individual. The individual must provide an itinerary of scheduled events or activities, a non-objection letter from a related labor organization or peer group, and a contract between the Petitioner and individual. He or she must also provide ample evidence demonstrating that they meet at least three of the following criteria (unless s/he has received or been nominated for a significant award such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award):

  • Performance in a lead or starring role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, press, publicity and/or contracts;
  • 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;
  • Performance 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;
  • 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 achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
  • Receipt of significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field, including recommendation letters that detail the author’s expertise and knowledge of the individual’s achievements;
  • Evidence of a high salary or other substantial remuneration earned and related to the field, as shown by contracts or other relevant evidence.

If your questions were not addressed in the O-1A visa FAQs page, please call one of our law offices or contact us today.