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