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O1 Visa

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What is an O-1 visa?

An O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities or achievements in specific fields. The foreign national must possess these abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. An individual may also qualify if they have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture/television industry and have been recognized nationally/internationally for their work and abilities. Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will make the ultimate determination if an applicant meets the extraordinary ability criteria, successful O-1 applicants are generally those individuals who have significant, and clearly recognized distinction in their field, usually above the average top performers. 

There are several classifications of O-1 and associated visas, as follows:

  • O-1A visas are for foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.
  • O-1B visas are for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the arts or individuals with extraordinary achievements in motion picture/television industry.
  • O-2 visas are for those individuals who travel with an O-1 visa holder to provide assistance during designated events.
  • O-3 visas are for spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

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O1 Visa FAQs

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The O-1 visa may be granted and valid for an initial period of up to three years. The O-1 visa may be extended indefinitely in one-year increments plus 10 days. This is available as long as the applicant continues in the same position doing the same activity for which the original O-1 was granted.

O-1 visa holders can only engage in the activity that the O-1 visa allows or was granted for. Other work is not permitted. O-1 visas are allowed to engage in part-time study. There are no travel restrictions associated with the O-1 visa and an O-1 visa holder can leave and re-enter the country a necessary during their O-1 visa validity period.

O-1 visas can be revoked if the terms of the original employment or activity have changed. In addition, a visa can be revoked if it is discovered that facts in the application were not true/correct. Similarly, if terms or conditions of the visa are violated it can result in a revoked visa. Finally, a significant error in the approval of the application could also lead USCIS to revoke an O-1 visa.

The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category so it does not have a direct path to a Green Card. However, O-1 visa holders are eligible to adjust status in the US to an immigrant category visa such as EB-1, which will allow the applicant to petition for a Green Card later. However, it is important to note that having an O-1 visa does not guarantee that USCIS will grant the requested immigrant category visa. USCIS will analyze the immigrant category visa petition on its own merit despite any prior approval of an O-1 application.