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O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

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The O-1 classification is used occasionally for the small percentage of foreign national scholars who have extraordinary ability in science, art, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation. Extraordinary ability is a high level of expertise and indicates that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field. The foreign national must seek to enter the United States to continue work in the area in which he or she is extraordinary.


A foreign national cannot self-sponsor in this category. Employer sponsorship is required and O-1 status is employer specific.

There is no limit to the time an individual can hold O-1 status. The first petition can request up to three years. Thereafter, USCIS will adjudicate the extension, with updated documentation, and determine the time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to one year.


The O-1 petition needs to demonstrate extraordinary ability by documenting at least three of the following:

  • Evidence of major international prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field;
  • Membership in associations in the academic field which requires outstanding achievements of their members;
  • Published material written by others in professional publications and major newspapers/media about the scholar's work in the academic field;
  • Evidence of participation as the judge of the work of others, either individually or on a panel, in the same, or an allied, academic field. This includes peer review for academic journals;
  • Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions of major significance in the academic field;
  • Evidence of the scholar's authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals or major media with international circulation in the academic field;
  • Employment in a critical capacity for organizations and institutions that have a distinguished reputation in the field.

The petition must also include at least 5 letters of support from senior people in the field of specialization outside of ASU attesting to the scholar's demonstrated extraordinary ability, and highlighting significant contributions to the field.

Foreign nationals subject to the 212e Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement are eligible for the O-1 classification, but they cannot change from J-1 to O-1 status within the U.S. They must apply for the O-1 visa abroad and re-enter the U.S.

Application Process

Begin the process six months before the intended O-1 start date or as soon as possible within that window.