The O-1 nonimmigrant visa category is available to foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in a variety of fields. This visa is split into two distinct categories. The O-1A visa is reserved for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. The O-1B visa is for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the arts or achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

Any individuals who will assist an O-1 artist or athlete with a specific event may enter the United States in O-2 status. Further, the spouse and children of an O-1 visa holder are permitted to enter the United States by obtaining an O-3 visa.


In order to qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must show that they have extraordinary ability in their field which has been shown by sustained national or international acclaim, been recognized through extensive documentation, and is coming to continue to work in their area of extraordinary ability.

To show this, the beneficiary must have evidence that they are the recipient of a major internationally recognized award (such as a Fields Medal or a Nobel Prize), or they must present at least three of the following form of evidence.

  • Documentation of the beneficiary’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  • Documentation of the beneficiary’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the beneficiary, relating to the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which must include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;
  • Evidence of the beneficiary’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization for which classification is sought;
  • Evidence of the beneficiary’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Evidence of the beneficiary’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

The beneficiary may also submit comparable evidence to establish their eligibility if none of the above are readily applicable to their endeavor.


O-1 visas are granted for the duration of a specific “event” such as a research project, an athletic season, or a music tour for an initial period of up to three years. However, O visas may be extended an indefinite number of times in increments of one year.

Contact A Michigan O-1 Visa Attorney

If you are an individual of extraordinary ability looking to enter the United States, you may need help from an immigration O-1 visa lawyer. Our team of dedicated attorneys could help you through this process and address any concerns you may have. For more information about how we could help you, feel free to call our office.

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