O1 Visa


An O-1 Visa is a US employment based visa given to people with “extraordinary ability” in the fields of Arts, Athletics, Business, Education, or Science. The category "O-1 Visa" actually refers to two distinct work visas, an O-1A and an O-1B Visa. Although their benefits are the same, the criteria needed to qualify for the visas are different. Those seeking a to work in the field of Arts must apply for an O-1B Visa, while those seeking to work in the fields of Athletics, Business, Education, or Science will be applying for an O-1A Visa.

If granted an O-1 Visa, you can bring both your support staff and your dependents. The O-1 Visa allows you to live and work in the US for your ‘sponsor’, or the employer you applied for the Visa with. If your sponsor is an agent, you can work for any employer in the US, provided they contract with you through your sponsoring agent. In order to qualify for an O-1 Visa you have to show that you have a job offer in the US, and that you have achievements in your field of work that tend to demonstrate you have an ‘extraordinary ability’. An O-1 Visa is sometime referred to as an ‘artist visa’ because it is the visa of choice for foreign artists working in the US, although it is not exclusively for artists. Some examples of the diverse field of O-1 Visa holders are Doctors, Professors, Executives, Actors, and Baseball players.


Eligibility differs based on whether you are applying for an O-1A Visa or an O-1B Visa.


▪ You can live in the US
▪ You can work in the US
▪ You can freely travel in and out of the US
▪ You can bring O-3 Visa dependents with you
▪ You can study in the US part-time
▪ You do not need to prove intent to return home
▪ You can freely transfer to a different visa
▪ You can pursue permanent residency
▪ No limit on number distributed by the US


▪ You must do only the work you applied to do
▪ Your visa is tied to your sponsoring job
▪ It will not lead to directly permanent residency


The content of the Visa package varies based on whether you are applying for an O-1A or O-1B visa, but the process is the same. You cannot apply more than a year before your job starts, and the whole process usually takes three months.

1. Compile your application packet with your lawyer.
2. Send out your application packet to USCIS. The decision times vary, but generally 2-6 weeks.
3. If necessary, answer any RFE’s you receive with your lawyer.
4. Receive your approval notice in the mail.
5. Get your Visa from an Embassy
               A. Locate a US Consulate (also known as embassy) that you can get to easily.
               B. Make an appointment for an O Visa.
               C. Complete the DS-160 Form online.
               D. Schedule your appointment and pay online.
               E. Go to Visa Interview.
               F. Get Visa Stamped Passport in Mail.
6. That's it! Welcome to the US!

You should get an appointment time 1-2 weeks from when you book it online. At the appointment you have an interview. You will find out if you were approved at the end of the interview, and your passport will be mailed back to you with a “stamp” in it about 1 week after this interview. That stamp is your O-1 Visa.


The O-1 approval notice will have a start date for your work. You can travel to the US 10 days before that start date to “get settled”. Some visas require you to show that you are coming back to your home country, and therefore you need a return flight. The O-1 Visa is not one of them. Feel free to buy a one way ticket and work out the details of your return later.



Visa Type Upfront On Approval
O-1A Visa (Science) $2000 $2000
O-1B Visa (Arts) $3500 $500

USCIS Application Fee $460
Premium Processing Fee* $1225
Visa Issuance Fee Depends on Country, usually between $0-100

*Optional, restricts USCIS response time to two weeks.


To qualify for an O1 Visa, you must have an 'extraordinary ability' in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. F1.You have to be sponsored by a US employer, an alien cannot sponsor themselves.F2. The work you are coming to the US to perform must be temporary in nature, and in the same area as your extraordinary ability. F3.

Your Petition Must Include:
Form I-129. F4.
A contract between the employer and the alien. F5, F6
An advisory opinion. F7.

Your Petition May Include:
Letters from former employers certifying alien's extraordinary ability. F8.
Letter from present employer certifying alien's extraordinary ability. F8.
Letters from experts in the field certifying alien's extraordinary ability. F8.

Your Petition Must Prove:
What your petition must prove differs depending on the field of job you are pursuing.
The three main categories are:
(1) Sciences, education, business, or athletics [referred to as O-1A];
(2) Arts [referred to as O-1B];
(3) Television and film [very unique qualifications, but falls under O-1B];

Requirements of O-1A Visa of the Sciences, Education, Business, or Athletics
(1) Evidence that the alien has recieved a major award such as the Nobel Prize. F9.
OR, if that isn't applicable, evidence of at least three of the following:
(1) The alien has recieved awards in their field. F10.
(2) The alien is a member of an elite association in their field. F11.
(3) The alien has been recognized by major media for their achievements.F12.
(4) The alien has served as a judge of talent in their field.F13.
(5) The alien has made original scientific, scholarly, or business contributions to their field.F14.
(6) The alien has authored scholarly articles which recieved major publication in their field.F15.
(7) The alien has worked in a critical capacity for a distinguished organization.F16.
(8) The alien has or will command a high salary.F17. C1.

Requirements of O-1B Visa of the Arts
(1) Evidence that the alien has been nominated for or won a significant national or international award such as an Academy Award or an Emmy. F18.
OR, if that isn't applicable, evidence of at least three of the following:
(1) The alien has and will perform as a lead in distinguished events. F19.
(2) The alien has been written about in major publications. F20.
(3) The alien has and will perform as a lead for distinguished prganizations.F21.
(4) The alien has record of work which has been commercially or critically successful.F22.
(5) The alien has recieved recognition for their achievements by organizations.F23.
(6) The alien has or will command a high salary.F24.

F1. “Under this nonimmigrant category, the alien may be classified under section 101(a)(15)(O)(i) of the Act as an alien who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(1)(i).

F2. “An O-1 or O-2 petition may only be filed by a United States employer, a United States agent, or a foreign employer through a United States agent… An O alien may not petition for himself or herself.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(2)(i).

F3. “An individual alien who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and who is coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(1)(ii)(A)(1).

F4. “A petitioner seeking to classify an alien as an O-1 or O-2 nonimmigrant shall file a petition on Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(2)(i).

F5. “Copies of any written contracts between the petitioner and the alien beneficiary or, if there is no written contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(2)(ii)(B).

F6. “An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(2)(ii)(C).

F7. “A written advisory opinion(s) from the appropriate consulting entity or entities.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(2)(ii)(D).

F8. “Affidavits written by present or former employers or recognized experts certifying to the recognition and extraordinary ability, or in the case of a motion picture or television production, the extraordinary achievement of the alien, shall specifically describe the alien's recognition and ability or achievement in factual terms and set forth the expertise of the affiant and the manner in which the affiant acquired such information.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(2)(iii)(B).

F9. “Receipt of a major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(A).

F10. “Documentation of the alien's receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(1).

F11. “Documentation of the alien's membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(2).

F12. “Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien, relating to the alien's work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(3).

F13. “Evidence of the alien's participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(4).

F14. “Evidence of the alien's original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(5).

F15. “Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(6).

F16. “Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(7).

F17. “Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.” 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iii)(B)(8).

F18. "Evidence that the alien has been nominated for, or has been the recipient of, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director's Guild Award." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(A).

F19. "Evidence that the alien has 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." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(1).

F20. "Evidence that the alien has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(2).

F21. "Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(3).

F22. "Evidence that the alien has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion pictures or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(4).

F23. "Evidence that the alien has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author's authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien's achievements." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(5).

F24. "Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence." 8 CFR 214.2(O)(3)(iv)(B)(6).