O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visas

An individual who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.

Visa requirements

In the field of science, education, business, or athletics, the applicant has attained a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of a small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. The individual must be seeking to enter the U.S. for purposes of continuing the type of same or similar work.

In the field of art, extraordinary ability means “a high level of achievement in the field of arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that encountered.” In this area the petitioner must prove that the artist is prominent in his/her field of endeavor.

Proving Extraordinary Ability in Science, Education, Business or Athletics: The beneficiary must prove sustained national or international acclaim by receipt of a major internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize, or by providing documentation of at least 3 of the following:

  1. Recipient of nationally or internationally recognized awards
  2. Membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievements
  3. Published materials in professional or major trade publications
  4. Evidence that the beneficiary has judged by the work of others in the field
  5. Original scientific or scholarly work of major significance in the field
  6.  Authorship of scholarly work
  7. Critical or essential capacity at organizations with a distinguished reputation
  8. Evidence that the applicant has commanded or will command a high salary

Note: In addition, Advisory letters from experts in the field are required.

Proving distinction in the arts

The beneficiary must prove prominence in the field as demonstrated by being nominated for or the recipient of a significant international or national award or prize, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or can document at least 3 of the following:

  1. Lead in production having a distinguished reputation
  2. Critical reviews in newspapers or trade journal
  3. Lead for organization that has a distinguished reputation
  4. Record or major commercial or critically acclaimed successes
  5. Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field
  6. Commands or has commanded a high salary


If the applicant is in the motion picture or TV business, approval requires a consultation letter from the union or management group. The opinion must describe the applicant’s achievements in motion picture or TV and state whether the position requires a person of extraordinary achievement.

For all other cases, the petition must be accompanied by a written advisory opinion from a peer group or a person with expertise in the applicant’s field. The advisory opinion for O-1 extraordinary ability must describe the applicant’s ability and achievements in the field of endeavor, the nature of the duties to be performed, and whether the position requires somebody of extraordinary ability.

Admission in O-1 Status

The Citizenship and Immigration Service authorizes entry for an initial period of up to 3 years and extensions in 1-year increments. Richard Harris Law Firm works to simplify the O-1 visa process. If you would like us to assist in your O-1 visa process, please contact us.


O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visas




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