An individual must meet 3 of the 8 criteria for the O-1A visa, or 3 of the 6 criteria for the O-1B visa to qualify as an individual of “extraordinary ability,” or alternatively have won a major internationally recognized award. The criteria as summarized by USCIS are as follows:
Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
An award that does not quite rise to the level of a “major, internationally-recognized award” may nonetheless count as 1 of the 8 criteria for determining “extraordinary ability.”
For this criteria, an individual must be a member of an association that will only admit individuals of high achievement in the field. A “pay-to-join” organization will not suffice.
Any article in a well-known newspaper that talks about the individual and their work in the field will qualify, even short articles. A tricky aspect of this criteria is proving that the newspaper, magazine, website, etc. was a “major publication.” Unless the newspaper is particularly well known, one may have to present circulation numbers from an audit bureau, website traffic information or other proof in order to prove that the publication is “major.”
For this criteria, the officer will generally look for proof that an individual’s work is (1) Original in the sense that it is new and it is substantially the individual’s own work and (2) that it is of major significance in the sense that it is widely purchased, cited, implemented or has otherwise had a noticeable effect on the field as a whole. For example, a new style of art that is widely used in the field, a new type of scientific or medical discovery, a new industrial production technique, etc.
A scholarly article must be an article relating to the individual’s work in the field that is meant for a specialist audience.
For this, an individual must present evidence that they made a substantial salary or other remuneration in relation to others in the field. “Other remuneration” can include remuneration in almost any form as long the value of it can be determined, for example, a business executive that is paid a modest salary but is also paid in company shares with a very high value could qualify under this criteria.
An individual working as a judge in an art show, cooking competition or even a dissertation committee could qualify. There is no requirement that the event where an individual served as a judge be a major or well-known event.
For this criteria, an individual must have played an extremely important role for the company in question. A high-level position such as CEO or president will likely be sufficient to qualify an individual as having been employed in a “critical or essential capacity,” especially if combined with letters from former or current colleagues. An individual who did not play a leadership role but rather developed a new invention or idea that lead to the company’s success could also qualify. For example, a mid or low-level engineer at a large company who creates a patent that eventually makes up more than half of the company’s revenue may arguably have been employed in a “critical capacity” in the company.
Evidence that the beneficiary has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director's Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:
For this criteria, it is critical to emphasize the importance of both the event and the individual’s role. The more central the individual’s role to the overall performance or production, the easier one can argue that the individual’s role was “lead or starring.”
For this criterion, our clients generally produce articles published in popular websites or major newspapers which talk about their artwork or performances.
A lead actor who regularly performs at a famous theater, a director at a well-known movie studio, a conductor at a well-known orchestra, or a head chef of a Michelin Start restaurant are examples of individuals who may qualify
This criterion can be most easily proven by showing a number of print or online publications which show success in the field over a number of years.
For this criterion, our clients usually present awards in their field, published critical reviews, letters of recommendation colleagues familiar with their work or letters from experts in the field.
For this criteria, one can present contracts which established a high remuneration, tax returns, pay slips or evidence of prizes or other awards with significant monetary value.
We frequently receive questions about the O-1 visa and its requirements. In an effort to help you obtain as much information needed as possible, we have compiled those that we think are the most commonly asked questions. So please feel free to visit our O-1 Visa Frequently Asked Questions page to find more information on this subject or contact us directly.
If you think you may qualify for an O1 visa contact us today. Our professional team is dedicated to helping individuals with all of their migration needs, including O visa applications. Attorneys Suzanne Vazquez and Maud Poudat, Board certified as experts in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Florida Bar, are very experienced and have helped many clients in the past. Our legal team also includes a Hispanic immigration attorney who can help you in your own language. Call our Immigration Law Firm today during office hours at (407) 674-6968 and we will be glad to help you. If you have an emergency after office hours please call us at (407) 925-2554 and we will contact you shortly. You may also fill in the online form provided in this page or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our O1 Visa Attorneys in Orlando will get back to you as soon as possible.