The High Standards Necessary To Work In The United States Via An O-1 Visa

As part of a general policy to attract the “best and brightest “to the United States to ply their trades, foreign nationals can apply for an O visa to secure entry to work in certain fields. These O visas possess several attractive features.  They can be acquired in a fairly short time frame. Holders of these visas can travel in and out of the country for as long as the duration of the visa which often can be extended to a period of three years after the visa’s issuance.  These immigrants can also bring their families, including their children who are under 21 years of age.

The standards for qualifying for an O visa, however, are fairly steep. Individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements may qualify for an O-1 visa. Such achievement can be demonstrated if the applicant has received a major internationally recognized award, such as an Olympic medal or a Pulitzer Prize, or, in the alternative has accomplished at least three of the following:

  • received a nationally recognized prize or award for excellence
  • attained membership in associations that require outstanding achievements of their members in a particular field of expertise, as judged by recognized national or international experts
  • been the subject of published material in professional or major trade publications or major media (regarding you and your work)
  • participated, on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in your field
  • made an original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contribution of major significance to the field
  • authored scholarly articles in professional journals or major media
  • been previously employed in a critical or essential capacity for an organization with a distinguished reputation, or
  • command or have commanded a high salary or other outstanding remuneration for your services.

While these standards will restrict the number that can succeed in their application for O visas, the relevant law does not set a ceiling on the number of visas which can be issued on an annual basis. Accordingly, no artificial limitations will preclude talented individuals in these aforementioned fields from working in the United States. But the exacting standards to qualify will ensure that only the most extraordinary or outstanding foreign workers in those fields can bring their talent to this country. For those applicants who do not have a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal, some of the criteria for qualifying are extremely subjective. Hence, it is critical such applicants’ procure knowledgeable counsel who can successfully advocate for the approval of such a visa request.

The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.