O-1 Extraordinary Ability or Achievement


This nonimmigrant visa category allows a U.S. employer to sponsor an international worker who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the arts, athletics, business, education, or sciences through sustained international or national acclaim.

Successful petitioners must file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services which includes the international worker’s receipt of one-time achievement such as a Grammy, Oscar, Olympic Medal, or Pulitzer, or more commonly in the alternative, establishes three (3) or more of the ten (10) criteria below:

  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Commercial successes in the performing arts
  • Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Published material about the international worker in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • The international worker has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases

The requirements of this nonimmigrant visa category are nearly identical to the EB-1A Extraordinary Ability immigrant visa category, except for involving a lower threshold of scrutiny. The O-1 visa is often considered a “stepping stone” to a green card under EB-1A due to their similarities.

Merit-based immigration cases are among the most complex area within U.S. immigration law involving a higher potential for denial, so it’s critical to work with an experienced business immigration attorney. A substantial amount of evidentiary documentation must be submitted to prove extraordinary ability and that the beneficiary has a qualifying job offer to work in their area of expertise.

The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.