The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa set aside for people with extraordinary abilities. The visa can be broken down into three categories: 1) sciences, education, business and athletics; 2) arts; and 3) motion picture or TV industry.
Sciences, education, business and athletics
People that usually fall into the first category are the ones who belong to a small percentage in their field and have risen to the very top of it. National or international acclaim is paramount. The acclaim can be shown by receipt of a major and internationally recognized award. Nobel Prize is a good example. If such award is not available then a person seeking O-1 status must prove at least three of the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
- Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
- Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the alien and the alien’s work in the field
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
- Scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field
- A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
- Participation on a panel, or as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
The requirements in the second category (arts) is less strict. A prospective applicant should know that the government will consider evidence that shows distinction. In the context of the O-1 visa, distinction means a person who is described as prominent, leading or well known in the field of arts. One way to show distinction is by offering evidence that an alien has been nominated for or received a significant national or international award or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy or a Director’s Guild Award. The other way to establish distinction is to satisfy a minimum three of the following:
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the alien in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications
- Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien’s achievements
- A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence
Motion Picture or TV Industry
This category requires proof of extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field. The same documents discussed above in the “Arts” section may be submitted in support of Motion Picture or TV Industry O-1 petition.