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Posted on August 12 2011

People With Extraordinary Abilities Can Obtain the O-1 Visa

By  Editor
Updated April 03 2023

Under the O-1 visa, people recognized for their extraordinary abilities in certain areas like the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics are eligible for non-immigrant status in the U.S.

There are multiple non-immigrant visas under which dual intent is recognized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Dual intent is a legal concept that describes people who maintain a proper non-immigrant status now, but intend to immigrate to the U.S. in the future. Although the eligibility and evidentiary requirements for the O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements in certain areas are strict, if non-immigrants apply for and are granted the O-1 visa, the dual intent doctrine applies.

Importantly, holders of O-1 visas are now allowed to seek permanent resident status without violation of the dual intent immigration guidelines. Most holders of non-immigration visas have problems when they seek change to permanent residence, as it can violate their existing status. Until recently, this was the case with holders of O visas. This is no longer the case and the O visas now permit dual intent.

What Is an O-1 Visa?

Under the O-1 visa, people recognized nationally or internationally for their extraordinary abilities in certain areas like the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics are eligible for non-immigrant status in the U.S under the O1-A classification. Those individuals with special achievements in the motion picture or television industry are labeled as O1-B and may also qualify for an O-1 visa. If O-1 non-immigrants have workers who must accompany them, they are classified as O-2 individuals and their spouses or children are labeled as O-3.

Who Is Eligible?

People staying in the U.S. on a temporary basis to work in the specialized areas of their extraordinary abilities can apply for an O-1 visa. O-1 visa applicants must demonstrate their extraordinary abilities in the fields of science, education, business or athletics by proving they are part of the few with their high levels of expertise. Those with extraordinary abilities in the arts, motion pictures or television must show their distinction through evidence of skills or recognition, which establishes their prominence as far above others in their fields.

What Evidence Is Needed to Qualify?

Petitioners for the O-1 visa generally must submit recommendations from peer groups or representatives about their areas of expertise, copies of employment contracts from employers and itineraries describing events or activities occurring during a stay. Previous qualifying employment can be anywhere in the world as long as it is in a position of extraordinary ability. O-1A and O1-B applicants must also provide evidence of nomination or selection for internationally-recognized awards, like the Nobel Prize or an Academy Award, or three other minor achievements, like scholarly publications or proof of reviews or performances in the media.

Who Can Help With the O-1 Process?

The process to apply for and receive an O-1 non-immigrant visa can be overwhelming at first, whether or not an O-1 applicant intends to stay in the U.S. beyond the temporary period granted to under this visa. It can also become more complex when petitioners require workers or family members to accompany them. It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney before petitioning for an O-1 visa, so that the application contains the required information needed for timely processing and approval.

If you are an individual with an extraordinary ability in one of the O-1 visa fields and you have an opportunity for employment in the U.S., contact an immigration attorney immediately to discuss this visa's requirements.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit


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