O-1 Visa Status


The O-1, for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics, is a nonimmigrant employment-based visa classification. It requires that the employer file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), along with evidence of the alien's extraordinary ability.

An initial O-1 petition can be filed for up to a 3-year maximum employment period. Subsequent extensions may be for no more than one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of such extensions possible. Individuals who are subject to the two year home country residence requirement under previous J-1/J-2 classification, are eligible to apply for the O-1. Such individuals, however, are not eligible for a change to O-1 status within the US, but must apply for the O-1 visa abroad, and re-enter the US in O-1 status. The OISS will file this application for qualified individuals holding academic positions who may not otherwise qualify for H1B Temporary Worker status.


  1. Employment in an academic position (most academic positions require a Ph.D.) Letter must specify the dates for which work authorization is being requested; no more than three years on initial applications, one year on all subsequent petitions.

  2. A written consultation /advisory opinion from a peer group, or from recognized expert(s), in the field in the alien's area of ability: i.e. letters of support from renowned researchers (as evidenced by their curriculum vitae and publication list) that attest to the qualifications and value of work to be done by the O-1 petitioner.

  3. Evidence that the professor or researcher is recognized nationally and internationally as outstanding in his/her academic field. This evidence should consist of at least three (more than three recommended) of the following:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievements in the academic field;
  • Membership in academic associations which require outstanding achievements of their members;
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field;
  • Citations in professional publications, written by others about the individual's work in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles, in journals with international circulation, in the field;
  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field;
  • Evidence of previous employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations having distinguished reputation (e.g. NSF or Department of Defense research grants);
  • Evidence of high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others in the field.