Qualifying Criteria

- You must have an extraordinary ability
- You must have sustained your excellence over the years (sustained national or international acclaim)
- You must be coming to the US to work in your field of extraordinary ability
- You must have a US company or US agent sponsor your O1 petition
- Your proposed employment in the US must qualify as an “event” as defined by the regulations
- You must have an advisory opinion issued by a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.

To qualify for an O1 visa, you must meet the following criteria, depending on your field of expertise:

For science, education, business or athletics

You must have expertise that distinguishes you from others in the field. In other words, you must be one of the “top” percentages.

For figures in the field of arts

You need to be distinguished in the field of arts and have higher achievements than most. For example, you should be a renowned, leading, or well-known figure in the field.

For figures in the motion picture or television industry

You need distinction – for example, being recognized as someone with a higher degree of skill than others, and who is a leading, notable figure in the field.

The O1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, issued to foreign nationals who have exceptional abilities or achievements in their field. Because it is aimed at individuals in science, education, or the arts, it is also referred to as an extraordinary ability visa or an artist’s visa.

Who can apply?
Qualifying Criteria
Application Process
Timeline 
Costs 
Family
Duration and Extensions 

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Family

The family members who can apply for visa to join you as dependents in the US are:

- Your spouse
- Your child under the age of 21

They can apply at the same time as you or after you have already settled in the United States. The application process is similar to that of your own visa, but there is no petition required at the USCIS.

Your family members cannot work in the US under a dependent visa, but they can undergo studies.

Costs

- Petition - $460
- Adjustment of status - $535 or
- Consular Processing - $190

Premium processing of the petition is possible for an extra $2500.

Application Process

Petition

Your employer is required to file a petition with USCIS, which sets out how you and your employer qualify for this visa. Once the petition is approved, you can proceed to the visa stage. The O-1 visa process will depend on whether you are changing status inside the US from another visa or applying outside the US at a US Consulate.

Change of Status 

A change of status is when you change from one non-immigrant status to another non-immigrant status. In order to do a change of status, at the time you file your O1 petition, you must be lawfully present in the US in a valid non-immigrant status. A change of status is done entirely in the United States (you are required not to leave the US during the whole process). 

Consular Processing

Once the petition is approved, you would then apply for an O-1 visa by filing an online visa application and attend a visa interview at a US consulate or embassy in your home country with supporting documents. 

Your spouse and children can also apply as dependents

Timeline 

It takes about two to three months for the USCIS to process your O-1 visa application. There is also the option of Premium Processing, which will give you an answer in only 15 days.

Who Can Apply?

You can apply for an O1 visa if you are someone who is accomplished in your field of work and have extraordinary abilities or achievements. There are two types of O1 visas, depending on your field of expertise – the O1A and O1B:

- You can apply for an O1A visa if you have extraordinary abilities in the fields of arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.
- You can apply for an O1B visa if you have extraordinary ability in the arts or outstanding achievement in the industry of motion picture or television.

There's actually third type of O-1 Visa as well:

- O2 for people who will assist and accompany an O-1 visa holder, artists, or athletes to carry out the contemplated performance in the United States.

Duration and Extensions 

Initially, the O-1 visa is valid for a maximum period of three years. Then, if you need to be in the US longer, your employer or agent will have to submit a new application, along with a new petition, proof of your current petition and visa approval and a statement which explains why the extension is required. In the statement, your employer should explain the activity for which you received the visa initially, and that the extension is needed so you can continue to work in the same activity or manner.

If you want to continue working, but with a different employer, your new employer has to file a new petition as well.

Discover MUSA. Your Essential Visa Ally.

This process, as with most immigration processes, is not only long-winded and tricky to fully comprehend, but it's also riddled with hidden elements that are not publicised by the relevant authorities. Knowing the law is essential. Experience with handling cases month after month is invaluable. MUSA is an essential ally in tackling immigration processes in a meticulously planned and correct way. Don't risk your filing fees.

O Visa  Extraordinary Ability