O-1 Individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement

O-1 Individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement

The O-1 classification is for foreign national scholars who have extraordinary ability in science, art, education, business or athletics. This is demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and achievements that 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.

Sponsoring O-1 employment Back to top

Step 1: ASU job offer

ASU may sponsor a prospective employee for O-1 employment when a job offer from ASU has been accepted via an offer letter.

Length of stay: An initial request is for up to three years, with possible extensions of one-year increments.

O Nonimmigrant classifications

  • O-1A
    Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry).
  • O-1B
    Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
  • O-2
    Individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance.
  • O-3
    Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s.

Please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website for more information on O-1 visas status.

Step 2: Determine O-1 eligibility

An individual cannot self-sponsor in this category. Employer sponsorship is required and O-1 status is employer-specific.

  • There is no limit to the time you can hold O-1 status. The USCIS will adjudicate the extension, with updated documentation, and determine the necessary length of stay.
  • If you previously held J status and were subject to the 212e Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement, you are eligible for the O-1 classification, but you cannot change from J-1 to O-1 status within the U.S. You must apply for the O-1 visa abroad and re-enter the U.S.

The International Students and Scholars Center processes O-1 requests on behalf of foreign nationals sponsored by ASU, and coordinates the O-1 process for university staff positions sponsored by ASU, which are then handled by outside legal counsel.

Step 3: Submit the O-1 request

The O-1 process begins when the sponsoring department submits a complete and accurate O-1 Request Packet to the ISSC. It is advised that the application process begins at least six months before the intended O-1 start date. Please contact the ISSC at InternationalScholars@asu.edu for the current O-1 request packet.

Required documents

Department documents:

  1. O-1 request memo.
  2. Department support letter.
  3. Copy of job posting or waiver of recruitment.
  4. Copy of offer letter.

Beneficiary documents:

  1. Copy of diploma and transcript for the highest relevant degree.
  2. Certification of Translation (if applicable).
  3. Copy of an official foreign academic credential evaluation for the highest relevant degree if earned from a foreign university (if applicable).
  4. All But Dissertation (ABD) letter (if applicable).
  5. Copy of most recent CV.
  6. Copy of valid passport identification page.
  7. Copy of most recent visa and most recent entry stamp(s), including entries in O-1 status (if applicable).
  8. Copy of most recent I-94 document.
  9. Copy of any previously issued DS-2019/AP-66 forms and J visas for any time spent in J status (if applicable).
  10. Copy of three most recent pay stubs (if applicable).
  11. Document certification.

Example proofs of extraordinary ability

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 that 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 five 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.

Fees

  • Form I-129 O-1 filing fee: $460.
  • Form I-907 premium processing (optional): $2,500.
    If premium processing service is requested, the USCIS will expedite the adjudication process and issue a decision on the petition in 15 calendar days.

O-1 inside the U.S.

This option is generally appropriate when the employee is already inside the U.S. and cannot depart and re-enter to begin O-1 employment. The request should be submitted as soon as possible so that the ISSC can prepare and file the O-1 petition with the USCIS.

A decision can be an approval, request for evidence (RFE) or denial.

The ISSC must receive the original O-1 approval notice from the USCIS before employment can begin. While the petition is pending, foreign nationals and departments can check the case status using the receipt notice number and view current processing times on the USCIS website.

USCIS can issue an RFE or deny a petition or application if the initial documentation provided is not deemed sufficient for approval. The USCIS will issue a receipt notice that confirms the O-1 petition has been received, which generally takes about one to two weeks.

Let the ISSC know by emailing InternationalScholars@asu.edu if the employee has plans to travel outside the U.S. while the O-1 petition is pending. Also notify the ISSC if the O-1 employee has family members who may require an O-3 extension or change of status. If needed, please include their documents and filing fee check(s) in the O-1 request packet.

O-1 outside the U.S.

This option is most appropriate when the employee is outside the U.S. and will begin O-1 employment by applying for admission at a U.S. port of entry. The request should be submitted to the ISSC as soon as possible.

The O-1 consular request process requires a prevailing wage determination, electronic posting notice and certification of a labor condition application (LCA) by the U.S. Department of Labor. An approved LCA, along with other documents, are necessary for the employee to apply for and obtain an O-1 visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate to enter the U.S.

Departments should consider the waiting periods for visa interview appointments and visa issuance.

Applying for entry into the U.S.

The employee must have a valid O-1 visa from a U.S. consular office in order to apply for O-1 admission at a U.S. port of entry. An employee who already has an O-1 visa that will be considered valid on the date of arrival in the U.S. does not need to apply for a new O-1 visa.

To apply for an O-1 visa, the employee should visit the U.S. Department of State’s embassies and consulates website to view the visa application requirements and make an appointment for a visa interview. It is best to try to apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the place of residence, although the employee may apply at any U.S. embassy or consulate worldwide that allows O-1 visa applications from third-country nationals.

O-1 visa application requirements vary by consulates and embassies, and the employee should check directly with the specific U.S. consulate or embassy on the requirements for the visa application.

In general, O-1 visa applications must include:

  • DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page.
  • Visa interview appointment confirmation page.
  • Proof of payment of visa fees.
  • Passport-style photo(s) that meet DOS nonimmigrant visa photo requirements.
  • Valid passport.
  • Any other documents required by the specific U.S. embassy or consulate.

Foreign nationals are required to have a valid O-1 visa (stamp on the passport) in order to enter the U.S. O-1 employees can enter the U.S. up to 10 days prior to the start date listed on the LCA for the O-1 approval notice. If the employee has any family members who will come to the U.S. as dependents, please view the O-3 outside the U.S. section below.

Foreign nationals are not guaranteed admittance to the U.S. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry will review all documents and ask about the reason for entry. These officers have the discretion to admit a person in O-1 status and any family members in O-3 status or refer them to a more detailed secondary inspection.

When the O-1 employee is admitted into the U.S., all documents should be returned and an admission date should be placed in the passport with the notation “O-1” (worker) or “O-3” (dependent) and a date indicating the period of authorized stay in the U.S. It is good practice to access and print the I-94 arrival record on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection I-94 website. The admission stamp and the I-94 printout are proof of admission and legal immigration status in the U.S.

Foreign national employees and their family members should keep copies of their passport identification/expiration pages, visas, admission stamps and I-94 records permanently in case any of these documents are lost or stolen.

O-3 dependents Back to top

The spouse and dependents (unmarried children under 21 years) of aliens in O-1 or O-2 status are eligible for O-3 status. They are subject to the same limitations of stay as their respective O-1 or O-2 principals. Children cannot remain in the U.S. once they turn 21 unless they change to a different nonimmigrant visa status such as F-1 student or B-2 visitor.

Foreign nationals have two options to obtain O-3 status:

  • Outside the U.S.

    Apply for an O-3 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate and then apply for O-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry.

  • Inside the U.S.

    File an I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with the USCIS.

O-3 inside the U.S.

This option is generally appropriate when the family members are already in the U.S. and require a change of status to O-3 or an extension of their O-3 status.

As a courtesy, the ISSC will file the I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status concurrently with the I-129 Petition of family members who are already in the U.S. in a qualifying status.

If filing for dependents, the O-3 beneficiary is responsible for providing the following documents and filing fees to the ISSC:

  • Completed Form I-539 and I-539A Supplement (if applicable).
  • Copy of current U.S. visa in passport (if applicable).
  • Copy of most recent I-94 document.
  • Copy of Form DS-2019, I-20 or I-797A/I-797B Approval Notice (if applicable).
  • Copy of passport identification page.
  • Copy of marriage certificate for spouse.
  • Copy of birth certificate for each child.
  • Copies of any other required documents listed on the I-539 instructions.

If the O-3’s spouse is applying for O-3 status, the spouse should complete Form I-539 with their own information. If there are dependent children applying for O-3 status, a Form I-539A Supplement should be completed for each child. If only minor children are applying for O-3 status, the oldest child’s information should be entered on Form I-539 and each additional child’s information should be entered on Form I-539A.

Children 14 years of age or older may sign for themselves, but a parent may sign for children younger than 14 years of age.

O-3 outside the U.S.

This option is most appropriate when the family members are outside the U.S. and will enter as O-3 dependents, or when they are in the U.S. but plan to depart before the current status expires and then return in O-3 status.

To apply for an O-3 visa, the family member should visit the U.S. Department of State’s embassies and consulates website to view the visa application requirements and to make an appointment for a visa interview. O-3 visa application requirements vary by embassy or consulate and the dependent family member should check directly with the specific U.S. embassy or consulate on the requirements for the visa application.

In general, O-3 visa applications must include:

  • DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page.
  • Visa interview appointment confirmation page.
  • Proof of payment of visa fees.
  • Passport-style photo(s) that meet DOS nonimmigrant visa photo requirements.
  • Valid passport.
  • Evidence of relationship to the O-1 employee: marriage certificate for spouse, birth certificate for each child.
  • Evidence of the O-1 employee’s status.
  • Any other documents required by the specific U.S. embassy or consulate.

Fees for dependents

  • Form I-539 Application / I-539A Supplement: $370.
    Paid by beneficiary, single fee for one application for all dependents.
  • Biometrics: $85.
    Paid by beneficiary for each applicant.

Study for O-3 dependents

O-3 spouses and dependents are allowed to study in the U.S. so long as the educational program does not include employment (e.g., co-op, assistantship, etc.). The duration of study is contingent on the O-3 employee’s period of stay.

Employment for O-3 dependents

O-3 spouses and dependents are not eligible for employment authorization.

Maintaining O-1 compliance Back to top

Arriving at ASU

If the O-1 process was handled by the ISSC, the O-1 beneficiaries should contact the ISSC at InternationalScholars@asu.edu to schedule an appointment after arriving at ASU in order to review documents.

Status expiration

O-1 employees should not remain in the U.S. beyond the expiration date of their I-94 record or passport entry stamp unless an O-1 extension petition has been filed with the USCIS in a timely manner. If the I-94 expiration date was shortened on the last entry into the U.S., the employee should contact the ISSC for further guidance to comply with O-1 requirements. Employees must leave the U.S. on or before this date to avoid accruing unlawful presence.

Beneficiaries should always retrieve their electronic I-94 record when returning to the U.S. and verify that the information on the I-94 printout is correct. It is good practice to always confirm that the name appears as stated on the passport, the appropriate visa classification is noted (O-1), and the “admit until” date at least matches or is extended for a 10-day grace period beyond the end date on the O-1 approval notice. The grace period is not automatic, but may be granted on the I-94 record upon entry or on the I-94/O-1 approval notice. During this grace period, the employee may remain in the U.S. but may not continue to work.

If the I-94 is shortened due to a passport validity date, status will end on the date marked on the I-94 record rather than the O-1 approval notice. O-1 employees are advised to immediately contact the ISSC if there is an error or data inconsistency on the I-94 record, or if the end date does not match the O-1 approval notice. The employee may be advised to contact the CBP Deferred Inspection Office in an attempt to change the I-94 record to a correct date.

O-1 duration and extensions

There is no limit to the time you can hold O-1 status. The USCIS will adjudicate the extension, with updated documentation, and determine the necessary length of stay. It is the sponsoring department’s responsibility to notify the ISSC if it intends to extend O-1 status for the employee beyond the end date of the current O-1. An O-1 extension request can be filed as early as six months prior to the current O-1 expiration date.

Original O-1 approval notice

The original I-797 O-1 Approval Notice is issued to Arizona State University as the employer who filed the I-129 O-1 petition on behalf of the employee and is maintained at the ISSC.

Material changes to employment

O-1 work authorization is employer-specific and covers only the particular position for which O-1 status was approved by the USCIS.

Please immediately inform the ISSC at InternationalScholars@asu.edu before any material changes to the original job position take place, such as:

  • Job title.
  • Job duties.
  • Salary.
  • Worksite location.
  • Number of hours changed from full-time to less than full-time employment.

The ISSC will determine whether or not an amended petition needs to be filed with the USCIS to indicate the updated job position information. If O-1 employment is terminated for any reason, the ISSC must be notified immediately at InternationalScholars@asu.edu in order to cancel the remaining O-1 with USCIS (if applicable).

Traveling while petition is pending

The O-1 employee must be physically present in the U.S. at the time a petition is filed. After filing, it is not advisable for O-1 employees to travel abroad while the petition is pending.

Change of address

It is the responsibility of the O-1 employee to file a change of address with the USCIS within 10 days of moving to a new home address in the U.S. by filing Form AR-11 on the USCIS website. Employees should retain a copy of the completed form for their files.

See FAQS about O-1