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O Visas

Visas for persons with extraordinary athletic, science,
arts, business, or educational abilities.

online registration

Persons who can obtain a O Visas are those of ‘extraordinary abilities’ in the sciences, arts (including the television and motion picture industry), education, business, or athletics. The O visa is a non-immigrant visa and one of the few visas which have the ‘dual intent’ element, meaning that the recipient may at the same time request for permanent resident status (in certain conditions) and not be concerned about the so-called ‘preconceived intent’. There is a need to be sponsored by an employer, and receive a job offer to obtain the O-1 visa.

O-1 status is distinguished from other employment related visas as they are broader in scope compared to other visas, such as H or L visas. For example, in the case of a H-1B visa, these are restricted to professionals, which closes the door on athletes and entertainers, and staying with H-1Bs, – there is also a yearly cap on the number of visas available, thus, many immigrants that do not get visas because of the quota, will apply for O-1 status. Likewise, there are also restrictions on a L visa, which makes the O visa an attractive option


1. O-1A Visa

These are available for persons with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.

2. O-1B Visa

These are available for persons with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

3. O-2 Visa

These are available for persons who will accompany an O-1 recipient to assist in a specific event or performance and must meet the following requirements:

  • Be an integral part of the actual performance.
  • Have critical skills and experience that cannot be performed by others.
  • In television and motion pictures, have a long-standing working relationship with the O-1 alien.

4. O-3 Visa

These are available for persons who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s.


An O Visa may be sought for an immigrant, by a qualifying employer, agents, managers, concert venues, etc., when the work-related event or group of activities requires a foreign national to travel to the U.S. on a temporary basis. In order to obtain this visa, a recipient should be involved in ‘an activity such as, but not limited to, a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture, series, tour, exhibit, business project, academic year, or engagement’. Moreover, if the job/activity does not have a specific engagement or project, that exactly fits the above definition it may also be considered if the ‘activity’ is within the foreign national’s area of extraordinary ability. Activities such as these may include short holidays, promotional appearances, and stop-overs which are incidental and, or related to the event.


In order to qualify for the O status, the foreign national needs to prove through documentation that they are at the top of their field. This can be established through evidence of receipt of a major, internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize. 

In absence of such an award one can establish himself as a qualifying alien through at least three of the following types of evidence:

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  2. Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
  3. Published material about the candidate in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  4. Evidence that the candidate has judged the work of others, either individually or on a panel.
  5. Evidence of the candidate’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field.
  6. Evidence of the candidate’s authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  7. Evidence that the candidate’s work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  8. Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
  9. Evidence that the candidate commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
  10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts.

Comparable evidence may also be submitted, and it may be of interest to persons wishing to obtain a green card, that the documents generally needed for an O-1, are similar to those for the EB-1 visa although there is less scrutiny for O visas.

It may be necessary to obtain an ‘Advisory Opinion’ where there is no appropriate peer group or labor organization. If there is a need to obtain an advisory opinion, this calls for a consultation with a U.S. peer group, labor organization or management organization regarding the nature of the work that will be undertaken and discussion of your qualifications. This opinion should describe the individual’s extraordinary ability and achievements in the field, describe the nature of the duties they shall be performing whilst in the U.S. and explain whether the position requires someone of an extraordinary ability. This opinion must be signed by an authorized official of the peer group or labor organization.

An individual will not require this opinion if they are seeking readmission to the U.S. to perform similar services within two years of previous consultation.

Length of the O Visa

The length of the O-1 visa is up to three years, and if extensions are deemed necessary, they shall be granted for increments of one year. Thus, in theory there is no limit to the number of extensions that can be given if you can prove to the USCIS the continued need for this visa.

Family Members

Your spouse and your unmarried children under the age of twenty-one, may accompany you to the United States. For employment questions for family members please contact us.


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