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O-1 Aliens with Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business, or Athletics

Law Offices of Yu & Associates

What is the O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa category applies to aliens coming to the U.S. temporarily, who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, arts or athletics. The O-1 visa holder can live and work in the U.S.

Can I Apply for an O-1 Visa by Myself?

No, you cannot petition on your own behalf. The O-1 visa petition has to be filed by your employer.

What Kind of Visa Should the O-1 Artistí»s or Athleteí»s Support Staff Apply For?

The support staff can apply for O-2 visas.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the O-1 Visa?

An O-1 visa petition must demonstrate the applicant's "ability" through the eligibility requirements described below. To qualify as an individual of extraordinary ability there must be evidence of the applicant's having received a major internationally recognized award (Nobel Prize) or at least three of the following:

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field.
  2. Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized experts in the field.
  3. Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.
  4. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about applicant's work.
  5. Evidence of participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the field.
  6. Evidence in the form of five or six letters and affidavits from prominent colleagues who can confirm applicant's original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance to the field.
  7. Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  8. Evidence of commanding a high salary or other compensation for services (this category does not usually apply to academic positions).

How can O-1 Visa Holders' Spouse and/or Children Come to the U.S.?

The spouse and children of an O-1 visa holder can come the U.S. under O-3 status subject to the same period of admission and restrictions as the principal. They are not allowed to accept employment unless they have been granted employment authorization.

How Long Can the O-1 Visa Holder Stay in the U.S.?

The O-1 visa is initially granted for three years and can be extended by one-year increments afterwards provided that the O-1 visa holder needs more time to complete the proposed employment.

Is the O-1 Visa Subject to the Same Two-Year Home Residence Restriction (HRR) as the J-1 Visa?

No, the O-1 visa is not subject to the 2-year HRR, so the O-1 visa holder does not need to return to their home country for two years or get a waiver of the requirement before changing status in the U.S. or applying for permanent residency.


The above is intended as a general introduction and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion for your particular case. Please contact the Law Offices of Yu & Associates with any specific questions. Tel: (301) 838-8986, Email:, Address: 110 N Washington St., Suite 328E, Rockville, MD 20850.

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