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Workers of Extraordinary Ability | O-1 Visa FAQs

 O-1 Visa FAQs

O-1 Visa FAQs Introduction

Who should obtain an O-1 visa? The O-1A and the O-1B Visas are specifically designed for foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in the fields of science, business, art, athletics, motion pictures, education, or television who wish to work for a company within the United States. Each type of visa requires specific evidence of achievement in this field such as internationally-recognized awards, high salary, or acclaimed work. For more detailed answers for these O-1 Visa FAQs click here.

Which O-class Visa Should I Apply For?

There are four types of O-class visas outlined in these O-1 Visa FAQs that pertain to certain individuals depending on their association with the contract of employment:

  • O-1A: This is for people who can demonstrate an extraordinary ability in science, business, education, or athletics.
  • O-1B: This is for people who have an extraordinary ability in the arts which include individuals associated with motion pictures or television.
  • O-2: This is for any individuals that constitute an “integral or essential part” to the completion of the production, employment, or activity by the carrier of the O-1A or O-1B Visa.
  • O-3: This is for anyone who can be classified as either the spouse or the child of an O-1 or O-2 Visa carrier.

What constitutes as evidence of extraordinary ability?

The required evidence can be anything that distinguishes you from among your peers in your field. An internationally-recognized award such as a Nobel Prize or Academy Award is sufficient evidence. In the absence of this, three (3) of the following items can be substituted for each visa.

  •  A nationally or internationally recognized prize for outstanding achievement in your chosen field.
  •  Officially recognized original contributions to your field.
  • Evidence of membership in an organization or association that has a membership requirement of outstanding achievement in your field.
  •  A notable salary or other compensation for outstanding services in your field.
  •  Evidence of participation in a judging panel that judges others in your field.
  •  Having a critical role in a relevant and distinguished organization.
  •  Evidence of scholarly articles written for reputable journals and other forms of media.
  •  Published material in publications or other forms of media that are relevant to your employer and your employer’s work in your field.


  • Evidence such as advertisements, publications, or reviews of your performance or participation in reputable productions or events.
  •  Evidence in journals, newspapers, or other publications of your critical performance or participation in distinguished organizations or establishments.
  • A notable salary or other compensation for extraordinary achievement as it compares to others within your chosen field.
  •  Evidence of recognition from agencies, critics, organizations, or other experts for outstanding achievements in your field.
  •  A record of critical acclaim or commercial success.
  • The list given for evidentiary items in these O-1 Visa FAQs is not exhaustive. If you feel that you possess evidence of extraordinary ability not listed in these O-1 Visa FAQs, please contact an immigration professional.

What is the Process of Obtaining an O-1 Visa?

O-1 Visa FAQs apply to all petitioners and each case can be unique, so you may want to consult an immigration professional if you think your situation might be exceptional. For most, however, the first step to obtaining an O-1 Visa would be for you to file form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker along with the associated filing fee.

This needs to be accompanied with a written advisory opinion from a distinguished individual or peer group within your employer’s field. For those petitioning for an O-1 in the area of motion pictures or television industry, the advisory opinion must have been from a relevant labor union and management organization in the employer’s field.

A copy of the contract between you and your employer must also be included. A written summation of an oral contract will also suffice as long as it contains what was offered to you by your employer and what you accepted from your employer. The last piece of information that must be filed is a detailed itinerary of the events and/or activities that you plan on participating in while in the United States.

The beginning and ending dates are required to be included in this itinerary. Once all of the information is collected, our O-1 Visa Lawyers will file the documents and the USCIS will begin deliberation concerning your petition. This must all be done at least forty-five (45) days but not more than a year before your employment date.

How much time should I allow for the process of obtaining an O-1 Visa?

The processing time for an O-1 Visa is relatively short compared to other work visas, though you should expect anywhere from three to four months. To learn more about processing time and other information detailed in these O-1 Visa FAQs, take a look at this post.

What is the difference between the O-1 Visa and the H1-B Visa?

There are a number of advantages to choosing to petition for the O-1 Visa over the H1-B. The first is that a limitless number of O-1s can be issued to anyone who meets the qualifications. H1-B visas have a strict quota of 85,000 visas at a time, making application very competitive and admittance not guaranteed.

The second is that the extension options for the O-1 Visas are in one-year increments, giving you the freedom to customize the amount of time you need to remain in the US to complete your contract. H1-Bs are limited to a two-year extension even if only one year is required.

The final advantage is that H1-B carriers are obligated to comply with the foreign residency requirement and reside in their home country for two years before being able to apply for other visas or permanent resident status. O-1 visa carriers may return to the United States without completing the foreign residency requirement.

How can I extend my O-1 Visa?

Should you require more time in the US to complete your contract, you can apply for an extension provided you fall within the following qualifications:

• Your admittance into the US was lawful and your visa for that admittance has yet to expire.
• You have not transgressed the boundaries of your visa or been convicted of a crime that would jeopardize your visa status.
• Your passport will remain valid for the duration of your proposed extension.
If you meet the above requirements, you will need to submit three documents:
• A copy of your employer’s Arrival/ Departure Record on Form I-94
• Another submission of Form I-129
• A written statement detailing the reasons for your proposed visa extension.
Emphasizing your importance to the contract and your employer’s work in your statement will help the USCIS to decide whether or not to extend your O-1 Visa. If you need more information than what is given in these O-1 Visa FAQs, you can visit

Will I get deported if I overstay my visa?

If you require more time to complete your contract and your O-1 Visa extension petition is denied, you can remain until the departure date given on your I-94 without fear of being forcibly removed.

If you fail to leave the United States at that time, however, you risk deportation and a possible ban on all future admittance into the United States. Should you be denied your O-1 visa extension, please contact our O-1 Visa Lawyers.

Our Areas of Practice – O-1 Visa FAQs

Our immigration lawyers assist individuals and businesses with immigrant and non-immigrant visas, including, green card petitions, family and marriage visas, business visas such as L and H1-B visas as well as labor certifications and EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 green card petitions. We practice in all areas of immigration law, including:

  • Family and Employment-based Green Cards
  • Work Visas (H-1B Visa, L-1 Visa, O-1 Visa)
  • PERM Labor Certification
  • Investor Visas (E-1, E-2)
  • Family Visas (K-1, K-2, K-3)
  • Citizenship & Naturalization
  • Deportation defense and Asylum

To schedule a comprehensive consultation from our O-1 Visa Lawyers, please fill out this form.

Give us a call at our  Fort Lauderdale Immigration Law Office
800 Corporate Dr, Ste #206 | Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
Phone: (954) 604-6406