The O-1 visa opens the door to the U.S. market for individuals of extraordinary abilities in the “sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics” or who have shown “extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry”. The O-1 visa is most notably popular among individuals in the creative fields due to the United States’ more lucrative entertainment industry; however, the O-1 visa provides many other nationally or internationally renowned foreign individuals the opportunity to pursue their careers in the U.S. provided that they have found employment in the U.S. and meet the qualifications of the O-1 visa.

There are various ways to demonstrate that an O-1 visa petitioner is of extraordinary ability within a field. For example, the O-1 visa petitioner may provide evidence of nationally or internationally recognized awards such as Nobel Prizes or Academy Awards, published material relating to their work, high salary in relation to others in the field, and evidence of association with highly reputable organizations or establishments. Prospective O-1 visa petitioners are advised to consult with an attorney to ensure that an appropriate amount of documentary evidence is included in their O-1 visa petition. Qualifying O-1 visa petitioners are granted an O-1 visa for one year; however, the O-1 visa petitioners may extend their stay in increments of one year, but their entire stay must not exceed three years. Family members such as a spouse of children under the age of 21 may accompany the O-1 visa petitioner to the U.S. with an O-3 visa and may attend school; however, are not authorized to work in the U.S.

In cases where the O-1 visa petitioner requires the assistance of an associate during a specific event or performance, the O-2 visa is available for workers with critical skills and experience that are indispensable to the successful performance of the principal O-1 visa petitioner, provided that there are no U.S. workers readily available to perform the work. Qualifying O-2 visa petitioners must also be able to evidence a long-standing working relationship with the principal O-1 visa petitioner.