O-1 Visa: Eligibility for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

O-1 Visa: Eligibility for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

O visas are temporary worker visas for individuals who have an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. O visas are also for those who demonstrate extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. Your extraordinary ability needs to be exhibited by national or international recognition.

To receive this temporary work visa, you need to continue work in your field of extraordinary ability in the United States. O-visas are available in four different categories depending on your qualifications.

O-1A Visa

O-1A visas are for those with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. Your extraordinary ability is shown through sustained national or international acclaim, which indicates that you are renown in your field. You must be a part of a small number of people who excel in your work.

O-1B Visa

O-1B visas are for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the field of arts. To qualify as having an extraordinary ability, you need to present distinction, meaning high level(s) of achievement in the arts. Your skill and recognition need to be considerably higher than others in your field. You must be prominent, renowned, a leader, or well-known in the arts.


The O-1B visa, also referred to as O-1B (MPTV), is for those who have extraordinary ability in the motion picture or television industry. You need to have accomplishments and recognition that are above others normally seen in your field. You need to be a notable person or leader in the field of motion picture and/or television.

O-2 Visa

The O-2 visa is the O-2 Essential Support Personnel visa. O-2 visa holders accompany an O-1A visa holder. To qualify, you need to be an “integral part” of the O-1 visa holder’s performance, artistically or athletically. As an accompanying assistant, you must have skills and experience that are specific and unique. O-2 visa holders must have skills and duties that a U.S. worker cannot perform.

For O-1B (MPTV) assistants, your experience with the O-1B holder must be considered critical on the basis of your pre-existing working relationship. If you are crucial to a significant production, you must show your work on the production is essential for the production’s success and completion. The significant production should also take place in the United States and abroad.

O-3 Visa

The O-3 visa is for the spouse and children under 21-years-old who may be eligible to accompany or later join the O-1 or O-2 visa recipient.

Application Process

To apply for an O visa, your employer or agent must apply on your behalf as your petitioner. Your employer needs to submit all required evidence along with Form-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. The USCIS recommends applying at least 45 days before the start date of your employment; your petitioner may not apply for the visa over a year before your employment start date. Evidence that needs to be presented are documents include the following:


A written advisory opinion from a peer group or an expert individual in your field. Examples include a labor union or management organization


A written agreement or summary of an oral agreement between the petitioner and beneficiary of your employment


Start and completion dates of events and activities scheduled during the visa holder’s time in the United States


The petitioner must provide evidence that they are an eligible petitioner. Petitioners may be the actual employer, a representative of both the employer and beneficiary or an agent of the employer who has authorization by the employer.

O-1 and/or O-2 Eligibility

Any evidence supporting an extraordinary ability in your field which includes awards and certificates that recognize your ability. Documents may be written by employers and other experts, or given by a credible institution

Once Form I-129 is filed at the direct filing address, you will hear back from the USCIS for the approval or denial of your petition. Once your petition is approved, you then apply for your visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The Department of State will establish your application process and issuance fees for your temporary work visa.

How Long Does an O Visa Last?

O visas last up to 3 years for the initial period of stay. For an extension of stay, the USCIS determines the amount of time it will take to complete your original activity in increments up to 1 year.

Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

The Lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., have over 30 years of experience in immigrant law. We are here to support and guide you in the process of getting visas such as the O visa. Contact us at (312) 444-1940.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!