O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

May 2, 2016 | Appeals | Commercial Litigation | Corporate

A foreign national with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics can obtain an O-1 visa to enter the United States and work in their field of expertise.  Due to the annual numerical cap set by Congress on the number of workers that can obtain an H-1B visa for workers in specialty occupations, employers can turn to the O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability as another option to help bring foreign talent to their US companies.

The O-1 visa consists of two groups: (1) O-1A visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, and athletics and (2) O-1B visa for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry. An employer can demonstrate “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, education, business, and athletics by establishing three of the following eight criteria:

  1. Nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards in that particular field;
  2. Membership in selective associations which require outstanding achievements;
  3. Professional publications written about him or her;
  4. Experience judging the work of others in the same or in a similar field;
  5. Important original contributions to the field;
  6. Authorship in scholarly articles in professional journals;
  7. Employment in an important position in an organization with a distinguished reputation; and
  8. High remuneration.

An employer can demonstrate “extraordinary ability” in the arts, motion picture or television industry by establishing three of the following six criteria:

  1. Employment in events with a distinguished reputation;
  2. National or international recognition for achievements;
  3. Performed, and will perform, in a critical role for organizations with a distinguished reputation;
  4. Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes;
  5. Significant recognition for achievements from recognized experts in the field;
  6. High remuneration.

The O-1 visa can be granted for a period up to three years and can be renewed indefinitely.  An O-1 visa can be a useful instrument to help employers bring foreign talent to the United States without being subject to the limitations set by the H-1B cap, and provides a gateway to permanent residency in the United States.  Rivkin Radler recently obtained an O-1B nonimmigrant visa for a Chief Creative Arts Director of a prominent web and application design firm.

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