The O visa category is reserved for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1), the artist or athlete’s support staff (O-2), and the spouse and/or children (O-3) of the principal O-1 visa holder.
To qualify, the alien must be coming to the U.S. to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement. The category does not include extraordinary ability in the arts, motion pictures or television. There is currently no annual cap on O visas.
The U.S. employer should file the petition (Form I-129) with:
- A written advisory opinion from a peer group (labor organizations included) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the alien’s area of ability;
- A copy of any written contract between the employer and the O-1 visa beneficiary, or a concise summary of the terms of the agreement under which the O-1 (and O-2, if any) visa beneficiaries will be employed, including location(s) and duration of employment;
- Evidence that the O-1 visa beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, or evidence of at least three of the following:
- (1) Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
- (2) Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized international experts;
- (3) Material published in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the O-1 visa beneficiary and his work in the field for which classification is sought;
- (4) Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
- (5) Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which O classification is sought;
- (6) A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
- (7) Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization closely related to the field for which classification is sought;
- (8) Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or institutions that have a distinguished reputation.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the O-1 visa beneficiary’s intended employment, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence of extraordinary ability common to that particular field in order to establish eligibility.