O-1 Visas


The O-1 visa, is a nonimmigrant visa available to individuals who posses extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, education, or athletics (O-1A visa), and individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in arts, film, and television (O-1B visa).

An individual looking to enter the United States on an O-1 visa must be coming to the United States to work in their field of extraordinary ability. The job itself, however, does not need to require the skills of someone with extraordinary ability.

O-1 visas are initially valid for a period of three years. O-1 visa holders can renew their visas in one year increments as long as they continue to work in their field of extraordinary ability.

O-1A Eligibility

The O-1A visa category applies to individuals with extraordinary ability in education, business, the sciences, or athletics. In order to qualify for an O-1A visa, an individual must provide evidence of having received a significant international award such as a Nobel Prize. In the alternative, they must provide evidence of at least three or more of the following:

  • Receipt of internationally or nationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
  • Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements for membership as judged by experts in the field;
  • Published material in professional, trade publications, or other media about the individual’s work;
  • Original contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
  • Evidence of a high salary compared to others in the field; and
  • Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

In addition, an individual may also submit comparable evidence that does not fit within the above eight categories.

O-1B Eligibility

The O-1B category applies to individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts, television industry, or film industry. In order to qualify for an O-1B visa, an individual must provide evidence that they have been nominated for, or received, significant international or national awards in their particular field such as, an Emmy, Grammy, or Academy Award. In the alternative, they must provide evidence of at least three or more of the following:

  • Evidence that they performed or will perform services in events or productions which have acclaimed notoriety as evidenced by reviews, publicity releases, publications, advertisements, or contracts or endorsements;
  • Evidence that the individual has achieved national or international recognition as shown by critical reviews or other published materials;
  • Evidence that the individual has performed or will perform in a critical role for organizations and establishments that have a prominent reputation. Evidence may include articles in trade publicans or journals, newspapers, or testimonials;
  • Evidence that the alien has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed success as indicated by title, box office receipts, television or movie ratings etc.;
  • Evidence that the individual has received significant recognition from critics, government agencies, organizations, or other recognized experts in the individual’s field; and
  • Evidence that the individual has commanded a high salary compared to others in their field.

In addition, an individual may submit comparable evidence that does not fit into the above categories.

O-2 Visas

O-2 visas are available for individuals who will accompany an O-1 visa holder and assist them in a scheduled event or performance. In order to be eligible for a visa, the O-2 visa applicant must demonstrate that they will form an integral part of the O-1 visa holder’s event or performance, and that they possess critical skills and experience that cannot easily be replaced.

O-3 Visas

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may accompany O-1 and O-2 visa holders to the United States on O-3 visas. Unlike some other types of nonimmigrant visas, O-3 visa holders are not authorized for work authorization.

Advisory Opinion Requirement

All O-1 and O-2 petitions must be accompanied by an advisory opinion from a Untied States based peer group, labor organization, or expert in the visa applicant’s field. The advisory opinion must describe the individual’s achievements in the field, the nature of the individuals proposed position, and whether the position requires a person of extraordinary ability.

Employer/Agent Requirement

An O visa applicant cannot file an O visa petition on their own behalf. Instead, the petition must be filed by the applicant’s United States based employer or an agent (“the petitioner”). As part of the petition, the petitioner will be required to provide USCIS with a copy of the applicant’s employment contract, or if no written contract exists, a summary of the oral terms of the applicant’s employment. If an individual will be working for several employers’ a single agent may file a single petition on behalf of the multiple employers. In such a situation, the petition will need to be accompanied by contracts between the employers and O-1 applicant, and a complete itinerary of the applicant’s work events.

Contact an Experienced Business Immigration Lawyer Today

If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing an O-1 visa, Hartzman Law Firm is here to help. Attorney Hartzman is a skilled business immigration attorney who has assisted many individuals through the O-1 visa process.

If you would like to learn more about how Hartzman Law Firm can help you meet your business immigration needs, please call us at (412) 495-9849 or fill out a contact form online. We offer free consultations in person, by phone, and by secure video conferencing. Weekend consultations are also available by request.

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