O visa classification: for persons with extraordinary ability

What is the O visa classification?
It is a non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in fields of endeavor in the
sciences, education, business, sports, the arts (including for movies, radio and television). An O visa
allows persons with extraordinary ability to come to the US to work temporarily in the US.

What sub-classifications of the O visa is available?
The O-2 visa is available for support staff of the O-1 principal visa holder. The spouse and children of the
O-1 principal visa holder is eligible for the O-3 visa classification.

Who can apply for an O-2 visa?
A person who will accompany the O-1 principal visa holder may apply for an O-2 visa if the
accompanying alien will come to the US solely to:

  • Assist the O-1 principal visa holder in his or her performance
  • Participate in the actual performance
  • Provide critical skills and experience based on a longstanding work relationship with the O-1
    principal visa holder


What is an “extraordinary ability” for the purpose of the O visa?
An “extraordinary ability” must be evidenced by:

  • Sustained national or international acclaim (receiving a Nobel Prize, for example)
  • A record of extraordinary achievement (receiving an Oscar award)
  • Distinction or distinguished merit (receiving the Pulitzer Prize)
  • Published work (scholarly articles or studies)
  • Original and significant contributions to a field of endeavor (for example, Albert Einstein’s work
    on the Theory of Relativity)

Extraordinary ability cannot be proved by mere:

  • Popularity
  • Fad
  • Prominence


Who can file the O-1 Petition?
The O-1 petition may be filed by the US employer of the foreign national. It may also be filed by an
agent. The foreign national with an extraordinary ability is referred to as the beneficiary of an O-1 visa

What is the period of validity of an O visa?
An O visa may be granted for a period of three years, but extensions can be granted indefinitely for
related performances (for example, for as long as a play is running on Broadway, or for as long as a TV
series will air season after season).

What kind of work may a beneficiary of an O visa do in the US?
The work must be a one-time event such as a concert, a show, a lecture, an exhibit, or a conference. It
may also be a series of events such as a concert tour. It may also be an activity in the beneficiary’s field
of expertise such as promotional appearances or to accept an award or to host a show. The work of the
beneficiary in the US must be in the field of endeavor where he or she has an extraordinary ability.

What documents must be presented by the O visa applicant?
The O visa applicant must provide:

  • A copy of the employment contract or a performance contract of the beneficiary showing the
    wages or salary that the beneficiary will earn
  • Basic information about the company employing the O-visa beneficiary
  • A copy of the beneficiary’s resume
  • Information regarding accomplishments of the beneficiary (awards, recognition)
  • Personal references (those who can give an opinion and recommendation regarding the abilities
    of the beneficiary)
  • A complete itinerary of all the events where the beneficiary will perform if the engagement or
    performance will be a series of events. The locations and venues must be provided.


When is the O visa not appropriate?
Some instances when the O visa is not appropriate:

  • When the beneficiary will work as a self-employed professional and not as an employed
    professional under a contract of engagement or employment or contract of performance
  • When the beneficiary is a freelancer who will yet procure work in the US
  • When the beneficiary will not enter the US to participate in a one-time event but to
    permanently work or reside in the US.
  • When the applicant is not an established business and does not have an official business address
    or business license.


It is difficult to prove extraordinary ability to qualify for an O class visa. The lawyers from Lluis Law can
help you gather and present evidence for extraordinary ability. Call us today and let us help you.