What Is O1 Visa

What is An O1 Visa?

When exploring your work visa options, you may wonder, “What is an O1 Visa?” Get the answers here from the experts at Path Law Group.

How Long is An O1 Visa Good For?


If you are considering bringing your career to the United States, you may be wondering “What is an O1 Visa?” The O1 Visa is for non-residents who demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, the arts, education, business, athletics, motion picture, or television industry. It could be considered the non-resident equivalent of the EB1-1 or “Extraordinary Ability Green Card,” which allows permanent residency for those at the top of their field. This does not mean the requirements of an O1 are lower than the EB1-1, though.

The O1 is typically valid for up to three years, but the period may be less if it is to cover an event, production, or activity. Extensions are available in one-year increments with unlimited extensions. However, the visa holder must prove they are participating in the same situation for which the original visa was granted.

Dependents, like a spouse or unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, can apply for O3 Visas, which allow them to accompany the primary holder during their time in the United States. The dependents may either arrive with the holder or at a later time. They may study but not work in the US with the O3 Visa. Contact the O1 Visa experts at Path Law Group to learn more about the eligibility requirements for dependents.

What is an O1 Visa 1

How to Get an O1 Visa


With the help of an attorney, how to get an O1 Visa is easier than it sounds. The US government is looking for a beneficiary to fulfill three of the following extraordinary ability criteria.

The first is known as initial or primary criteria – criteria that are based on true facts, like whether the beneficiary had published a book or won the Nobel Prize. The second criterion is defined by experts’ written opinion letters. These letters must look at primary evidence to determine the petitioner meets the necessary criteria, degree of skill, and recognition. The third level of criteria is made up of scholarly evidence or expert opinion letters. Last, the beneficiary must have already been offered a job by a US employer.

How to Get O1 Visa

What is the O1 Visa Application Criteria?


As mentioned, the O1 Visa is primarily meant for those applying in the fields of motion picture, television, sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics because of their extraordinary ability. The requirements depend on the specific field of endeavor and whether the applicant is seeking an O1A or an O1B Visa.

To qualify for an O1A Visa, applicants must provide proof of an internationally recognized award like an Olympic Medal or a Nobel Prize. If they have not received an award, they must meet at least three of the following criteria to prove their extraordinary ability:

  • The applicant has received national or international acclaim such as awards of excellence in their field or coached one someone who has.
  • The applicant is a member of associations that require outstanding achievement. The associations may be difficult to get into and have requirements to gain membership.
  • The applicant’s work has been featured in professional publications like the New York Times or Time Magazine.
  • The applicant has professionally judged others in the same or a related field. This could be as an individual or part of a panel. This must be in addition to their normal duties, as it does not count if judging or coaching is the main duty.
  • The applicant must have articles or books published with notable trade publications. The work must be scholarly or technical.
  • The applicant made original contributions to their respective field.
  • The applicant has served in a leading role for highly regarded organizations.
  • The applicant has received a high salary for their skills.

To qualify for an O1B Visa, which is specifically reserved for individuals with extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement in the arts, motion picture, or television industry, applicants must have received or been nominated for a significant nationally or internationally recognized award in their respective field, such as an Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild award, or be able to show evidence of at least three of the following:

  • The applicant has held or will hold a lead or starring role in productions or events with a distinguished reputation.
  • The applicant has achieved national or international recognition for achievements as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the applicant in major trade publications.
  • The applicant has performed and will perform in a lead or starring role for an organization or establishment with a distinguished reputation.
  • The applicant has demonstrated 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.
  • The applicant has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the applicant is engaged.
  • The applicant has earned a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to what is ordinarily encountered by others in the field.

Read our O1A guide and O1B guide for more information about the requirements and differences between each type of O1 Visa. Also, see our guide to switching your immigration status from an O1 to a Green Card here.

Who Qualifies for O1 Visa?


Any non-resident of the US who has an extraordinary achievement or extraordinary ability and meets the above criteria will qualify for an O 1 Visa. As you can see, however, some requirements are straightforward while others can be interpreted on an individual basis. The more criteria you meet, the more likely you are to be approved.

If the criteria do not apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, they must provide comparable evidence. For instance, a record of extraordinary achievement and national or international acclaim looks very different in film than it does in education or in the arts. You may not have an Oscar, but you can still prove a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement. If this is the case for you, contact our lawyers for professional guidance when filling out the application.

Who Qualifies for O1 Visa

O1 Visa Cost


It costs $190 to file an O1 Visa application. The O1 Visa cost is required to move forward with the application. Aside from the application fee, you may be required to pay other fees depending on your residence. Once all your fees have been paid, it is important to keep receipts to prove you have paid all fees. You may also want to consider hiring a lawyer to help you through the application process, especially if you are not educated on O-1 Visas, which may add to your cost. Further, there are fees pertaining to processing, bringing dependents, etc. These are the things you should consider before you begin the application process. Contact our attorneys today and let us help you through this process.

O1 Visa Cost

Details About USA O1 Visa


If you find that you meet the above criteria for an O1 Visa, you may begin your application. To begin the O1 process, the applicant needs to file Form I-129, or the Non-Immigrant Worker, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). USCIS is a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) whose primary function is to oversee the United States’ immigration system and naturalization process.

Your Form I-129 may not be filed more than twelve months before the O1 Visa is needed. To avoid delays, it should be filed at least forty-five days prior to the first day of employment.

It should be noted that the form is required to be submitted by the employer or another agency. Bear in mind that the O1 cannot be self-petitioned, so you can’t submit it for yourself. Because of that, the US company or agency is the petitioner, and you are the beneficiary.

Here is an overview of all the major components of the O1 Visa application process, all of which your attorney can assist with:

  • You will be required to pay all fees as discussed above.
  • You will be required to complete a visa consultation where an expert will write about their opinion on the beneficiary. Once complete, it should be sent to USCIS.
  • You will need to provide the written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary.
  • Travel itineraries and dates and events are to be provided to prove the validity of the request.
  • The applicant must be sponsored by a US agency.
  • A wage must be listed.

O1 Visa Approval Rate


In 2019, there was a surge in the O1 Visas accepted despite 30,259 being granted in 2018. With the rise of visa acceptances, requests for evidence (RFE) or denials have also increased. This may come as a shock because O1 Visas are granted to those with extraordinary ability to fill in talent gaps in the US since employers are often in dire need of exceptional people to grow their businesses. In 2019, 90% of applications were accepted.

While the majority of O1 applications are accepted, there is still a chance for denial. The best way to increase your O1 Visa approval odds is to work with a skilled O1 Visa lawyer. When you work with Path Law Group,  you will have a dedicated team of legal experts standing by your side each step of the way to ensure that your application accurately reflects your qualifications so you can begin your career in the United States as quickly as possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

O1 Visa Approval Rate