NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS

O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability

Overview

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.

Requirements

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.

Application Procedures

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.

Time Limits

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.)

Employment

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.

Dual Intent

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 O-1.

Dependents

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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