The O1 visa is a non-resident US visa for people who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field, whether that be the arts, sport, business, education, or the sciences.
The O1 could be considered the non-resident equivalent of the EB1-1 (the ‘Extraordinary Ability Green Card’, which gives permanent residency). This does not mean that the requirements to obtain an O1 are any lower: the applicant needs to prove they are at the top of their field.
The O1 visa is normally valid for up 3 years. However, if it is granted to cover a specific event, production, or activity, the period may be less. Extensions are available in 1-year increments, and there is no limit on extensions. However, the visa holder must show that they are continuing with the same position or activity, for which the original visa was granted.
Dependents of an O1 visa holder can apply for O3 visas, which allow them to accompany the primary visa holder for the duration of their stay in the United States, either arriving with the O1 holder, or at a later date. O3 visa holders are permitted to study - but not to work - in the U.S.
Qualifying for an O1 Visa
Applicants must be able to provide sufficient evidence for at least three of the following criteria:
- Have received national or international awards or prizes of excellence in their field
- Are a member of associations whose membership requires outstanding achievement, judged by nationally or internationally recognised experts in the respective discipline
- Their work has been featured in professional or high-profile trade publications, or mainstream media
- The applicant has served in some capacity as a judge of others in the same (or closely related) field. This could either be individual or as part of a judging panel
- Have had articles published in professional or notable trade publications
- Have made original scientific, academic, or business contributions of major significance in their respective field
- Have served in a leading or critical capacity for highly regarded organisations or establishments
- Command a high salary or remuneration for their services
A visa process can seem an impossible challenge. If you wish to overview your visa strategy, Migratio’s specialist team of lawyers will provide you with all the advice and support you need.