Outstanding Service, Extraordinary Results

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The O-1 Visa


This information is to provide a general understanding of the O-1 visa and the eligibility requirements. It is for informational purposes only. If you believe you are a candidate or would like to employ a candidate for an O-1 visa, we strongly recommend that you seek the advice of an attorney.  We are happy to provide an evaluation of your prospects for the O-1, but will need to review the curriculum vitae or resume of the applicant. In addition, in many cases, we may need to discuss your qualifications with you. If you decide to proceed with our services, we will provide you specific guidance as to the preparation of the case.

The O-1 is a non-immigrant status for foreign nationals with distinction in their field of expertise. This includes physicians and scientists, medical clinicians, researchers, management consultants, IT professionals and others with superior qualifications in their field of expertise. It is also a status that provides a great deal of flexibility for those with a two-year home residency requirement, or who are finishing their sixth year in H status and are exploring other nonimmigrant opportunities.

Information Specific to J-1 Visa Holders

With regard to those foreign nationals who have a two-year home residency requirement, please note the following:

  1. The O-1 is available to J-1 visa holders and does not require a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement.
  2. However, the O-1 is not a waiver. A waiver or fulfillment of the two-year home residency is required in order to be eligible for a ‘green card.’
  3. The two-year home residence requirement can be satisfied incrementally over a number of years.
  4. The O-1 can be initially obtained for up to three years, and extended indefinitely in one-year increments.
  5. The O-1 requires a job offer and an employer.

Information Specific to Physicians

  1. The employer can be a hospital, research institution, private practice or corporation.
  2. It is not necessary for the employer to be located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or Medically Underserved Area (MUA).
  3. It is not necessary for the employer to advertise or recruit U.S. physicians.
  4. The O-1 is available to primary care physicians, specialists, general scientists, as well as other professionals with distinction in their field.

Documentary Requirements

In order to prepare a petition for a nonimmigrant O-1 as an alien of extraordinary ability in the sciences, medicine or other profession, we require additional information about the alien’s achievements and distinctions in his or her field. Specifically, for an O-1 visa to be approved, evidence must be submitted from at least two of the following categories:

  1. Original contributions of major significance;
  2. Material published about the alien;
  3. Nationally recognized prizes, awards or distinctions;
  4. Evidence of service in a leading or critical role for distinguished organizations;
  5. Evidence of having served as a judge of the work of others;
  6. High salary in comparison to others;
  7. Authored scholarly articles, abstracts or presentations;
  8. Membership in societies that demand outstanding achievement.

However, while the threshold requirement is three, USCIS evaluates the totality of evidence submitted, and does not merely ‘check off’ that three or more criteria are met.