O-1 Visa: Individuals with Achievement

The O-1 visa is for the individual who has extraordinary ability in the fields of sciences, education, business, arts or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the television industry or the motion picture and has been recognized for the achievement nationally or internationally.
The O nonimmigrant visa contains four categories:

  • O-1A: individuals have extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, education, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B: individuals have extraordinary ability or achievement in the arts, motion picture or television industry
  • O-2: individuals who will accompany and will assist the O-1 visa holders in a specific event or performance
  • O-3: the spouse or children of O-1 visa holders and O-2 visa holders


The O-1 visa petition must be filed by the U.S. employer on behalf of the beneficiary. The O-1 visa holders are allowed to work temporarily in the United States to perform the related areas of extraordinary abilities if the O-1 visa petition is approved. The requirements for the four categories of the O nonimmigrant visas are different.

Individuals in the fields of science, education, business or athletics need to demonstrate that their levels of expertise are one of the small percentage and are on the top of the field of endeavors.

Individuals in the fields of arts need to demonstrate that they made a high level of achievement with their skills and knowledge, and such person is well-known, renowned and leading in the fields.

Individuals in the fields of motion picture or television industry need to demonstrate the achievement they made with the skills and knowledge is significantly recognized as notable, leading and outstanding in the fields.

Visa Petition Process

Step 1: The employer files a visa petition (Form I-129) with USCIS on behalf of the beneficiary with the following evidence:

O-1A: Demonstrate the beneficiary received nationally-recognized or internationally-recognized awards or at least three evidences of the following:

  • Received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the fields mentioned above
  • Membership in associations in the fields that require outstanding achievements, and be recognized as national or international experts in the field
  • The beneficiary has published material and articles in professional journals or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media in the fields mentioned above
  • Made significant contributions  in the fields of science, education or business
  • Demonstrate beneficiary received a high salary or other remuneration for services
  • Participated as a judge for others in the same fields on a panel, or individually
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations that have a distinguished reputation

O-1B: Demonstrate the beneficiary received or has been nominated for significant national or international awards in the field or at least three evidences of the following:

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions, events or for an organization that  have a distinguished reputation
  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials (newspaper, trade journals, magazines, other publications)
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field
  • Demonstrate beneficiary received a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field

Step 2: Upon the approval of the visa petition (Form I-129), USCIS will send a Notice of Action (Form I-797) to the employer. The beneficiary can apply for the O nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy.

If the individual is outside the U.S.

If the alien is outside the US, the Notice of Action (Form I-797) can be used to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate.  The individual and his/her immediate family members will be required to attend an interview at the Consulate where the data that was submitted will be verified.  Upon successful completion of the interview in Step 2 above, the individual may enter the U.S. to perform the related areas of extraordinary abilities and can generally stay until the expiration date on the visa.

For more information about O visa, you may check U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ web page: