O-1 Visa Category as an Alternative to H-1B

The O-1 (A) visa is increasingly popular, especially for candidates who cannot qualify for other visas, who do not have a Bachelor degree, or who were not successful with the H-1B lottery. O-1 visa is not easy to get as it requires that the foreign national to establish that he/she is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of his or her field of endeavor. In order to meet this standard, the foreign national needs to fulfill at least 3 of the 8 criteria listed below:

  • Alien of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business and athletics. To qualify for this type of extraordinary ability, the alien must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing evidence of:
    1. Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, OR
    2. 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;
      2. Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members;
      3. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien concerning the alien’s work in the field;
      4. Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the field;
      5. Scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
      6. Authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media;
      7. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
      8. High salary or other remuneration commanded by the alien for services
      9. Other comparable evidence;


  • Other Requirements

Additionally, all O-1 applicants must have a petition filed on their behalf by a U.S. employer or agent, and all petitioning employers/ agents must obtain a written advisory opinion, from a peer group or labor organization in the applicant’s field, describing the applicant’s extraordinary ability.


  • Duration

The O-1 visa is initially given for a period of up to three years, with an opportunity to renew the visa in one-year increments, so long as the visa holder is engaged in authorized employment.


Proving “extraordinary ability” in Science, Education, Business, or Athletics


Showing “extraordinary ability” in science, education, business or athletics means that the foreign national needs to provide evidence that he/she is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of his or her field of endeavor. As it stands, this is much higher standard than that of Artists who apply for the O-1B visa. At DLO, we narrow the field of endeavor, and focus on foreign national’s gained experience and expertise in sub-fields. For more information and free initial consultation, contact us at ddobreva@dobrevalaw.com.