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O-1 Extraordinary Ability

Summary

The O-1 classification applies to an individual who:

  • has "extraordinary ability" in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, and who is coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability; or
  • has demonstrated a record of "extraordinary achievement" in motion picture and/or television productions and who is coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary achievement.
Relevant Definitions

Arts includes any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, and performing arts.

Distinction means a high level of achievement in the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

Extraordinary achievement with respect to motion picture and television productions means a high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, leading, or well-known in the motion picture or television field.

Peer group means a group or organization which is comprised of practitioners of the person's occupation who are of similar standing with the person and which is governed by such practitioners.  If there is a collective bargaining representative of an employer's employees in the occupational classification for which the person is being sought, such a representative may be considered the appropriate peer group for purposes of consultation.

Standards to Establish Extraordinary Ability in Science, Education, Business, or Athletics

Such a person must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field or expertise by providing evidence of:

A.  Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize; or

B.   At least three of the following forms of documentation:

  1. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  1. Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
  1. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the person, relating to the person's work in the field for which classification is sought;
  1. Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought;
  1. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  1. Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
  1. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  1. Current or former high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

C.         If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary's occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary's eligibility.

Standards to Establish Extraordinary Achievement or Ability in the Arts

To qualify as a person of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry or a person of extraordinary ability in the field of arts, the person must be recognized as having a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement as demonstrated by the following:

A.  Evidence that the person has been nominated for or has been the recipient of significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director's Guild Award; or

B.   At least three of the following forms of documentation:

  1. Past and future performance 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;
  1. National or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  1. Performance in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  1. Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, credit for original research or product development, motion picture or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
  1. Receipt of significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the person is engaged.  [Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author's authority, expertise, and knowledge of the person's achievements]; or
  1. Current or former high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence; or

C.         If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary's occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary's eligibility.

Peer Consultation

Written evidence of consultation with an appropriate peer group regarding the nature of the individual's work to be done and the individual's qualifications is mandatory before an O-1 petition can be approved.  Usually, the consultation takes the form of a written advisory opinion from a peer group (see the "Definitions" section above).  If no peer group exists and the absence of such a group capable of rendering an opinion can be established, no consultation is required.

Procedure

The U.S. sponsor/employer or agent (the "petitioner") initiates the process to have the foreign national beneficiary placed in the O-1 category.  The petitioner must submit a petition, with supporting documentation, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.  The supporting documentation should include the written consultation. 

If the USCIS APPROVES the petition, it issues a Notice of Approval and notifies the U.S. consulate (or the USCIS port of entry) of the petition approval.  The beneficiary then may apply at the U.S. consulate for an O-1 visa (or, if no visa is required, at a U.S. port of entry for admission to the United States).

If USCIS DENIES the petition, it sends a Notice of Denial.  A petitioner may appeal the denial to the USCIS' Administrative Appeals Office in Washington, D.C., but this process is time-consuming.

Time Limits

An O-1 petition may be approved for an initial period of up to three years.  Extensions of petition validity may be authorized by the USCIS in one-year increments.

Spouses and Children

Spouses and children are accorded "O-3" classification.  They may accompany or later follow to join the principal O-1, but they may not work in the United States, though attending school is permitted.  They may remain in the United States for the same length of time as the principal O-1.

 

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