O1A Sciences/Education/Business/Athletics

An O-1A is an alien coming temporarily who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion picture, or television industry). The extraordinary ability must be demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.

Unlike the EB1 –Extraordinary Ability category, the O-1 category requires employment and sponsorship by the employer.

The petition must be submitted with:

  1. Before an O-1 visa can be granted, the applicant must go through a special consultation process. The applicant must get an “advisory opinion” from a peer group (a group of professionals in the foreign national’s occupation or profession) or from a union, labor, or management organization. An “advisory opinion” is a letter from an organization stating that the position the applicant will hold requires extraordinary ability. The peer group must provide a written opinion to the immigration services of the U.S. if the application does not include a peer group opinion, the immigration will attempt to contact a peer group directly. If there is no such a peer group, the immigration will make a decision without a peer group consultation. The immigration will not require a new consultation if the foreign national is reentering the U.S. in the O-1 category within two years of a previous peer group consultation.
  2. A copy of any written contract between the employer and the foreign national or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the foreign national will be employed;
  3. An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events and activities; and
  4. Evidence of the foreign national’s extraordinary ability, such as receipt of major awards or prizes, documentation of the foreign national’s membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members, major published material by the foreign national or relating to the foreign national’s work, evidence of the foreign national’s contributions to the field, evidence of the foreign national’s original scholarly work or contributions to the field, evidence of the foreign national’s high salary within the field, evidence that the foreign national participated on a panel that judges the work of others in the field, or evidence of the foreign national’s prior employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

The petition must be filed by a United States employer, a United States agent, or a foreign employer through a United States agent. While the regulations prohibit an O-1A beneficiary from petitioning for himself, an entity owned by the beneficiary may be eligible to file the petition on behalf of the O-1A owner. The regulations require that the agent be ‘in business’ as an agent. An employer that files a petition on behalf of other employers does not meet the definition of an agent.       

There is no annual limit on O-1 visa. O-1 visa can be approved for up to three (3) years with unlimited extensions in one (1) year increments.  

Foreign national can work for more than one employer. Each employer must file a separate petition with the USCIS.

If the employment is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer is liable for the reasonable cost of return transportation of the individual to his last place of residence prior to entry into the U.S.  

USCIS regulations state that the approval of a permanent labor certification or filing of a preference petition for permanent residence shall not be a basis for denying an O-1 petition, a request to extend such a petition, or the alien’s application for admission, change of status, or extension of stay.