O-1A: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability in Science, Education, Business, or Athletics

The O-1A visa is recommended for individuals who are considered leaders in the field and have received international or national recognition for their achievements. In order to apply for an O-1, you must be sponsored by a U.S. employer or agent on either a part-time or full-time basis. Oftentimes, the O-1A is used a stepping-stone toward obtaining an EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card.

General Requirements:

A strong O-1 filing should present strong evidence of at least 4 of the 8 criteria listed by USCIS (although only 3 criteria are required):

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field- paid memberships usually do not meet this threshold
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
  • Original scholarly or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

Common Occupations:

  • Athletes/Coaches
  • Business Professionals
  • Scientists
  • Researchers
  • Engineers

Filing Process:

In the past couple of years, USCIS has been pretty strict in reviewing O-1 petitions, usually requiring more evidence than is necessary to adjudicate the case. Therefore, the O-1 petition would be a very “document-heavy” filing, which requires extensive evidence to prove you’re top in your field. As USCIS applies a very high level scrutiny to these types of cases, it is very important to evaluate all evidence available and present your strengths accordingly.


O-1 petitions can be approved for up to 3 years at a time, depending on the length of the job offer/itinerary submitted with the petition. Currently, there is no limit on the number of extensions an individual may receive.

At this time, we are committed to the health and safety of our clients, our staff and our community. The government continues to accept applications and process them as normal. We are equipped to continue to prepare and process all cases. Please keep in mind that most cases take months to process. We want to continue to prepare and process these cases, so that when we do get through this crisis, you will not have lost crucial processing time. We will perform all consultations over the phone and can be best reached through our contact form.