The O-1 visa is a temporary work visa for people with extraordinary ability in athletics, arts, business, education or science as demonstrated through sustained national or international acclaim. The O-1 visa permits those individuals who have reached the top level of expertise in their field or industries to come to the U.S. to work in their field for a US employer or agent.
O-1 Visa Entitlements
An O-1 visa entitles the holder to live and work in the US temporarily. An O-1 visa is usually granted for an initial period of up to 3 years and extensions may be granted. Foreign workers with an O-1 visa are permitted dual intent, meaning the applicant can maintain O-1 visa status while applying for a Green Card to remain in the US permanently.
Persons wishing to accompany O-1 visa applicants who are artists or athletes may be eligible to apply for an O-2 visa if the individual’s skill set and experience are very essential to the completion of the O-1 visa applicant’s work.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for the applicable derivative visa (O-3 visa) to join their spouse or parent in the US. Accompanying spouses and children are entitled to study in the United States but are not empowered by the United States government to undertake any employment without obtaining an appropriate work visa.
O-1 Visa Requirements
To be able to qualify for an O-1 visa, the applicants in this category must demonstrate in clear terms that they possess an extraordinary ability that is above what is ordinarily available in one of the following fields:
• Arts, motion picture or television industry;
• Education; or
A person of extraordinary ability is one of a small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of their field. This must be evidenced by skill and recognition above that ordinarily encountered and the person must be recognized as prominent, renowned, or notable in their field. In addition, the applicant must have at least a temporary offer of employment from a US employer or agent to work in their field of expertise. O-1 visa applicants, like all other applicants in other categories, may also be required to meet certain health and character requirements.