The O Visa for Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

Last Updated on March 21, 2024

The O visa is a rare visa category, but can be a useful option for certain foreign nationals

Intended for those at the very top of their fields, the O-1 visa is a special category that permits foreign nationals with extraordinary skills or achievements to work in the U.S. There are a number of skills and unique requirements that each petitioner must have in order to qualify for this visa.

Understanding the O visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievements

What is the O Visa?

The O-1 visa classification is intended for foreign nationals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. This visa is also for people with a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television productions.

The O visa category includes the following visas:

  • 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 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; and
  • O-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

What is the Consultation Requirement and How Does it Work?

In some cases, to obtain an O-1 visa, USCIS might require a written advisory opinion in the application from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the petitioner’s area of specialization that supports their prominence in their chosen field. However, not all O-1 visas require this written advisory opinion.

O Visas for Dependents

O visa options are available for dependents along with primary O visa holders. In addition to the O-3 visa for spouses and dependents, the O-2 visa allows individuals to accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to provide essential support or assistance in a specific event, performance or production. The assistance must be integral to the event, performance or production, and the O-2 must have specific and critical skills or experience with the O-1 individual that are not possessed by a U.S. worker​.

The O-2 visa is not available to O-1 recipients in science, business or education fields.

O Visa Practice Pointers

When filing form I-129 for an O visa petition, there are several pieces of documentation to include to explain the nature of the events and activities that the petitioner will be participating in. The petitioner must establish that these are events or activities in the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary ability for the validity period requested. The petition should also include documentation that proves that the petitioner is well-regarded in the field. This can include awards or prizes, published news coverage or examples of their work.

For a full overview of the O-1 visa, as well as the required documents to apply, download our guide to the O visa.

Envoy is pleased to provide you with this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Corporate Immigration Partners, P.C., a U.S. law firm who provides services through the Envoy Platform (the “U.S. Law Firm”).     

Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Envoy is not a law firm, and does not provide legal advice. If you would like guidance on how this information may impact your particular situation and you are a client of the U.S. Law Firm, consult your attorney. If you are not a client of the U.S. Law Firm working with Envoy, consult another qualified professional. This website does not create an attorney-client relationship with the U.S. Law Firm.