O-1 Visa Classification

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is a very useful and important category for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. It is also widely used by individuals who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

O-1 VISA: This category is intended for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics ( not including those working in the arts, motion pictures or television industry.)

O-1B VISA: This category is for individuals in the arts, motion picture or television industry and who can show a demonstrated record of distinction in these fields.

O-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 individual to assist in a specific event or performance.

O-3- Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s

Period of Stay:

O-1 offers an initial period of stay of three years, but allows for unlimited extensions. This is a very advantageous distinction from other non-immigrant visas like the H1B and the L-1 Visas. Essentially, you can stay and work in the U.S. as long as you are in O-1 status and meet the requirements for an O-1 extension. These extensions are granted in one-year increments. The extensions are however not guaranteed and you need to continue to prove the extraordinary ability.

How do I qualify?

Evidentiary Criteria for O-1A

Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:  

· Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor

· Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field

· Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought

· Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field

· Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought

· A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence

· Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought

· Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

If the above criteria do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility.

Evidentiary Criteria for O-1B

Evidence that the beneficiary has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director's Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:  

· Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements

· Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications

· Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.

· A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other 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 in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary's achievements

· A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence

If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility (this exception does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).


The O-2 visa is for individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist the O-1 visa holder in a specific event or performance.

The evidence should establish the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 beneficiary with the O-1 beneficiary and that the beneficiary has substantial experience performing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1.

In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence should establish that significant production has taken place outside the United States and will take place inside the United States, and that the continuing participation of the O-2 beneficiary is essential to the successful completion of the production.


The O-3 visa is available to the spouse and unmarried minor children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

Can I get a Green Card through the O-1?

The O-1 visa allows for ‘dual-intent’ . This means the applicant for permanent residence can apply for a green card without jeopardizing the O-1 visa. O-1 visa holders usually pursue the EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Alien green card or the EB-1B green card for outstanding professors and researchers. Please see our post on EB-1A here.

The main advantage of the EB-1 category is that there is no requirement to file a Labor Certification under PERM. This can be a big-time saver in your permanent residence process. You can directly file the I-140, Petition for Immigrant Visa. You can also expedite the processing by filing for premium processing. Once the I-140 is approved, you can file for Adjustment of Status, Form I-485, if visa numbers are available based on your nationality.


USCIS Filing Fee for O-1 (Form I-129): $460

Premium Processing for decision within 15 days: $1410 (This is optional)


At Parikh & Prasad PC, we can help with every step of the process, from the time you decide to apply for the O-1 Visa to the green card application (if required).

We will collaborate with experienced agents to help smoothen the process for you.

Our combined experience of over 25 years in the US immigration field will surely be an asset to your case. Our fees are reasonable and our services are unparalleled. So, let our team of highly skilled immigration specialists guide you to make your American dream come to fruition.

Bindi Parikh, Esq.


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