O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability
O-1 visa classification is available to foreign nationals of extraordinary ability
in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics or motion picture and television
production who wish to temporarily enter the U.S. for continuing work in their field
of extraordinary ability. Visa classification is also available for necessary support
personnel in qualifying circumstances.
O-1 classification requires that the foreign national must be coming to the U.S.
to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement, that he or she
enjoys sustained national or international acclaim, and that an advisory statement
from a U.S. peer group or labor organization in the foreign national's
area of expertise confirming that such organization does not object to the foreign
national's classification as an O-1 temporary worker.
This classification does require an approved petition for employment. Prior to
the foreign national of extraordinary ability applying for an O-1 visa, the U.S.
employer must obtain petition approval from the USCIS. If the foreign national of
extraordinary ability is outside of the U.S., he or she must apply directly at the
nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. (Please note: in some cases, the applicant must
apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his or her home country. See the Visa
Issuance section for more details.)
If the foreign national of extraordinary ability is inside the U.S. and wishes
to change to or extend his or her O-1 Non-immigrant visa status, his or her authorized
employer must apply for approval from the USCIS in connection with the underlying
petition for employment.
A foreign national may be initially admitted to the U.S. or granted a change of
status to O-1 visa classification for up to three years with the option to extend
for one year at a time by filing a timely petition for extension of stay with the
USCIS. There is no overall time limit applied to O-1 visas. As is the case with all
Non-immigrant visa classifications, the duration for which one is allowed to remain
in the U.S. in O-1 status is governed by the expiration date indicated on the most
recently issued I-94 card, except in cases where a non-frivolous extension of stay
request has been timely filed. (See How do I know if I am lawfully
present in the U.S.? in the FAQ section for more details.)
O-1 Non-immigrant status is an employer-specific work authorized status pursuant
to the terms and conditions of the approved petition on which O-1 status was granted.
A foreign national on this visa may be eligible to apply for permanent residency
if his/her employer requires his/her services permanently or based on extraordinary
ability without the need for a job offer. Please click
here for information on employment immigration.
An O-1 Non-immigrant visa holder may simultaneously pursue permanent residency
without affecting negatively impacting his or her continued eligibility for O-1 Non-immigrant
visa status. Accordingly, the filing of a labor certification application, I-140
immigrant visa petition or I-485 adjustment of status application is not a basis
for denying a change of status to, extension of stay in, or visa for O-1 status.
This protective concept is known as the "dual intent doctrine" and is recognized
under immigration laws for several Non-immigrant visa classifications, including
The spouse and minor children of O-1 visa holders may apply for derivative O-3
visa classification in order to accompany or follow to join the principal visa holder
(at the consulate) or to remain in the U.S. with the principal visa holder (through
a change of status application with the US CIS). O-3 status is conditioned on maintenance
of valid O-1 status by the principal visa holder and dependent eligibility, and does
not confer employment authorization.
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