O-1 visas are available to persons of proven extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. To be considered a person of extraordinary ability, you must have sustained national or international acclaim, or, if you work in motion pictures or television productions, you must have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement.

O-1 visas can be given only on the basis of individual qualifications. Membership in a group or team is not by itself enough to get you the visa. In addition, you must be coming to work or perform at an event or a series of events in the area of your extraordinary ability.

To meet O-1 standards, you must be able to show that you have extraordinary ability and that you have received sustained national or international acclaim. This can be demonstrated if you have gotten a major internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize, or if you have accomplished at least three of the following:

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

If the above criteria do not readily apply to your occupation, the company petitioning for you may submit equivalent evidence in order to show that you are “extraordinary.” Please call or email the law office of Gopal & Pedigo, PC and one our immigration lawyers will assist you.

The criteria for the O visa are divided into separate categories as follows:

  1. The Arts
  2. Motion Picture Industry
  3. Science, Business and Athletics


Arts include any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. Aliens engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers but other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians, and animal trainers. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(o)(3)(ii).

You will have to demonstrate your recognition with documents showing that you have been nominated for or have received significant national or international awards or prizes in your particular field, such as an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award, or by showing at least three of the following:

  • Leading or critical role in production having a distinguished reputation,
  • Critical reviews in newspapers, magazines or trade journals,
  • Leading or critical role for organization with distinguished reputation,
  • Has commanded or will command a high salary,
  • Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field, or
  • Record of major commercial or critically-acclaimed success.

If the above criteria do not readily apply to your occupation, the company petitioning for you may submit equivalent evidence in order to show that you are “extraordinary.”

Motion Picture or TV Industry

Those in the film and television industry are held to a higher standard than those in the arts although the similar criteria are used. You must show a history of “extraordinary achievement” rather than mere “distinction.”

Science, Business and Athletics

Applicants in these areas must show national or international acclaim through receipt of a major international award or show evidence that they meet three (3) of the following criteria:

  • receipt of nationally or internationally recognized award,
  • membership in organization that requires outstanding achievement,
  • published materials about the applicant in professional or trade publications,
  • judge of the work of others,
  • original scientific or scholarly work of major significance,
  • authorship of scholarly work
  • evidence of employment in critical role by entity with distinguished reputation, or
  • has received or will receive high salary.

Here are advantages and disadvantages for O-1 Visa:

  • You can work legally in the U.S. for your O sponsor. If you want to change jobs, you must get a new visa.
  • O visa can be issued quickly.
  • O visas will be granted for the length of time necessary for a particular event, up to a maximum of three years, with unlimited extensions in one-year increments.
  • You may travel in and out of the U.S. or stay there continuously for as long as your visa stamp and status are valid.
  • Your spouse and children may accompany you, but they may not accept employment in the U.S

O-2 visas are available for support staff of the O-1 visa holders. Spouses and children of O-1 visa holders are granted O-3 visas.

Our immigration law firm, Gopal & Pedigo, PC, can assist you in obtaining your O-1 visa. Please call or email our office and one of our experienced immigration attorneys will assist you. We are conveniently located near the Nashville International Airport in Nashville, TN.