O-1 status is a temporary status available to aliens of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics coming to perform services for a US entity. An employer or agent must petition for O-1 status on behalf of the extraordinary individual. O status is an alternative to H-1B status for physicians (especially those who may not have been able to obtain a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement in a timely manner) university professors, and researchers. It is also especially appropriate for artists, entertainers, and athletes.
Classification as an “O-1” requires the individual to demonstrate extraordinary ability as evidenced through sustained national and international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field. The following is a list of the evidence that the USCIS has indicated is necessary to qualify for an O-1:
Receipt of a major internationally-recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize; or
A combination of at least three of the following forms of documentation:
- Nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field;
- Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national and international experts in their disciplines;
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien, relating to his/her work in the field. Must include the title, date, and author of such published material;
- Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization for which classification 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;
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have distinguished reputation;
- Receipt or command of a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.
If one or more of these criteria do not readily apply to the occupation, then the petitioner can submit other comparable evidence.
Petitioners must submit a consultation with an appropriate “peer group” (such as a prominent association in the field of endeavor) before a petition can be approved; this consultation must provide the peer group’s assessment of the nature of the work to be done and the beneficiary’s qualifications to perform that work. Some professions and specialties have no “peer group,” in which case alternate evidence can be submitted.
Dual Intent: Filing of an immigrant visa will not, in and of itself, prevent entry or re-entry on an O or extension of O visa. However, the individual must have an “unabandoned residence” abroad.
Dependents: The spouse and children of the O-1 visa holder are eligible to obtain O-3 status to accompany the O-1. Dependents holding O-3 status are not permitted to work.