The O-1 non-immigrant visa status allows individuals with exceptional skills in the fields of science, arts, education, business or athletics or those who have records of achievements in the television and motion picture industry or won accolades nationally or internationally. The O-1 Visa is classified into four different categories: O-1A, O-1B, O-2, and O-3. The O-1A Visa preference is for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional skills in science, arts, education, business or athletics and excludes the creative roles of the television industry.

General Eligibility Criteria:

The general eligibility criteria for the O-1 Visa is to show proofs of national or international acclaims and the foreigner should be coming temporarily to the US to continue working in the field of extraordinary ability. Expertise in the fields of science, arts, education, business or athletics means the individual has risen to the top of their respective field and represents a small percentage of those overachievers. In case the evidence submitted by the individual does not meet any of the listed criteria, they should produce evidence which is the closest match in order to justify their eligibility.

Evidence demonstrating the O-1A eligibility:

The individual should be able to produce an evidence of achieving a major accolade or a Nobel prize or should meet any of the following three criteria:

  • Demonstrate proof of accolades or awards achieved nationally or internationally in their respective fields.
  • Be a member of associations which demand excellence and achievements as recognized nationally or internationally by experts in the field.
  • The candidate should have their work published in a renowned publication, newspapers or other major media.
  • Contributions in the field of science, business or scholarly work of excellence.
  • Ownership of articles published in major media or professional journals in their related field.
  • Proofs of high salary which can be demonstrated through contracts or any other reliable source of evidence.
  • Become a member of a panel or judge the work of other participants in their field of specialization for which they have petitioned.
  • Employed by esteemed organizations in a significant or critical role.

Application Process O-1 Visa

The application process involves a few steps like filing for the Form I-129 petition, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker with the USCIS. The Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment and not more than one year before.


The recommendation should be produced by a reliable peer group or an expert in the individual’s field. If the petition is from an individual with an achievement in television and motion picture industry, the labor union and the management with an excellent reputation should give consultation. A written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary is recommended which displays the summary of the oral contract.

A US agent can also act as the actual employer and petition for the beneficiary, representing the employer and the beneficiary.

The consultation can be waived for individuals with exceptional ability in their respective field if they seek readmission to demonstrate the similar skills within 2 years since they filed for the previous consultation. The beneficiary should submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation while filing a new petition.

This post is not a legal advice, just my 2 cents.