The O visa classification is available for foreign nationals who are considered by their peers to be at the top of their fields in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. These foreign nationals must have extraordinary ability demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. The O-1 visa is valid for three years and can be renewed in three-year increments indefinitely.
When a USCIS officer is reviewing the O-1 petition, he or she looks for letters of support from experts and at least three forms of proof of outstanding achievement, including the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field;
- Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements of their members as judged by recognized national or international experts;
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media articles about the individual;
- Participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others;
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance;
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or
- Previous or current high salary or other remuneration for services evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.
USCIS also requires a written advisory opinion from a U.S.-based organization considered to be a peer group with expertise in the field (for example, for health professionals, the American Health Association). A consultation from a labor union is required before an O petition can be decided. If there is no labor union, the consultation requirement is waived.