O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa

You may be eligible for an O-1A visa if you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, which can be demonstrated by sustained acclaim and recognition, and you will be coming to the United States to start a business in your field.

Initial period of stay in the United States: Up to 3 years. May extend or renew the period of stay in 1 year increments as necessary to complete or further the event or activity.

The O-1A visa is for people who are recognized as being at the very top of their field and who are coming to the United States to continue work in that field. To establish eligibility for an O-1A visa you must either have received a major, internationally recognized award, similar to a Nobel Prize, or submit evidence that affirmatively answers at least 3 of the 8 questions below:

  • Have you received a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence in the field of endeavor?
  • Are you a member of any associations which require outstanding achievements of their members as judged by recognized national or international experts?
  • Is there published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about you which relates to your work in the field?
  • Have you participated on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization?
  • Have you made original scientific, scholarly or business-related contributions of major significance?
  • Have you authored scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media?
  • Have you been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation?
  • Have you or will you command a high salary or other remuneration for your services?

In the field of business, many of the criteria above may not apply and you can demonstrate your extraordinary ability by other comparable evidence.

For most O-1 cases for entrepreneurs, you may find other relevant evidence to show your extraordinary abilities as an entrepreneur related to your personal accomplishments and to the success of the businesses you owned or operated.

For example, O-1 category may be appropriate for those entrepreneurs who have successfully started and operated businesses in foreign countries that have had great commercial success, hired significant number of workers, or have developed a unique product or service that is in high demand.

As evidence for O-1, you may be able to submit evidence of prizes received by your business, its media coverage, list of important clientele, contracts for services, evidence of numerous offices, any patents for products, etc.

While the regulations prohibit an O-1A beneficiary from petitioning for himself or herself, an entity owned by the beneficiary may be eligible to file the petition on behalf of the O-1A owner. As with H-1B, you have to show the employment relationship between the company and you as the employee.

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