Extraordinary Ability Visa

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Q: What is O Visa?

O is a nonimmigrant classification reserved for those aliens with extraordinary ability in the arts (including the television and motion picture industry), sciences, education, business, or athletics. It is an employment-related visa that allows qualified aliens to temporarily live and perform services or labor in the United States. The visa is divided into three sub-categories:

  • Alien of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts, Sciences, Education, Business, or Athletics (O-1);
  • Accompanying Alien to Assist Alien in Athletic or Artistic Performance (O-2);
  • Spouse or Child, unmarried and under age 21, of an O-1 or O-2 Alien (O-3).
Q: How can an alien prove his or her "extraordinary ability?"

Whether an alien’s qualifications meet the "extraordinary ability" standard required for an O-1 visa varies in consideration of the type of service. Generally, it can be met by an alien who has achieved a level of expertise reached by only a small percentage of people, who has risen to the top of his or her respective field, and who has extensive documentation of sustained national or international acclaim or distinction.

For an alien in a field of science, education, business, or athletics, evidence of the receipt of a major, internationally recognized award – such as a Nobel Prize – will establish qualification. Alternatively, without such an award, he or she may establish qualification by producing documentation of at least three of the following:

  • Receipt of a lesser nationally – not necessarily United States – or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence in the field;
  • Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievements by their members;
  • Published material in a professional or major trade publication, or in the major media, related to the alien or the alien’s work in the field, or scholarly articles in the field written by the alien and published in a professional journal or in the major media;
  • A judicial role – individually or as part of a panel – over the work of others in the field;
  • Indispensable performance for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations; or
  • Past command of a high salary, or other significantly high remuneration, for services performed in relation to the field.

An alien in the arts or television and motion picture industry must demonstrate that he or she has achieved "distinction" in the field, as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above average, such that the alien is known as outstanding, notable, or leading in the field. Evidence of a nomination for or the receipt of a major, nationally or internationally recognized award – such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award – will establish qualification. Alternatively, without such an award, an alien may establish qualification by producing documentation of at least three of the following:

  • Past or intended performance in a lead or starring role in productions or events having a notable reputation (as established by critical reviews, advertisements, press releases, publications contracts, or endorsements);
  • Critical reviews or other published material in professional or major trade publication or in the major media by or about the alien which show that he or she has achieved national or international recognition or achievement;
  • Past performance in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations;
  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales;
  • Significant recognition for achievement from organizations, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field; or
  • Past command of a high salary, or other significantly high remuneration, for services performed in the arts industry.
For how long is an O visa valid?
An O alien may remain in the United States for the period required to complete an event or activity. However, such period must not to extend past the three-year limit on initial entry.

Contact Information

U.S. Office Address: 
60 East 42nd Street, 46th Floor             New York, NY 10165, USA
Phone: 646 480-5779 x 4652

Taiwan Office Address:                       台灣台北建國北路二段66號7樓
66 Jianguo North Road, Section 2, 7th Floor, Taipei, Taiwan 
Phone: 02 2515 5855

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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