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O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa

The O-1 visa is a temporary work visa available to foreign nationals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.  The applicant needs to demonstrate to USCIS that he or she possesses a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentages who have risen to the top of the field of endeavors. Either of the follow two evidences can be used to satisfy the requirement.

Receipt of a major, internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize; or

At least 3 of the following forms of documentation

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members
  • Published material about the alien
  • Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied fields
  • Evidence of original contributions of significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles
  • Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations with a distinguished reputation
  • Evidence that the alien has or will command a high salary


Only the U.S. employer or an U.S. agent can petition for O visa.  An alien cannot apply for an O visa in his or her own name.  The form for petitioning for an O visa is the I-129.  This must be submitted along with the consultation opinion, evidence documenting the alien’s extraordinary ability, and details of the proposed work in the US.  The petition is to be approved for the duration of the event, in which the alien will participate, for a maximum of three years. 

An O visa may be extended in one-year increments for an indefinite period of time.  Form I-129 is also used to file for an extension.  The application for an extension does not need to include a consultation, and requires only a statement of why the extension is sought.


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