LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Romy B Jurado | Nov 15, 2017

The Petition Process of obtaining for O-1 Visas: Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

The individual seeking the visa is not the person who actually files the petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The individual must have a U.S. sponsor file the petition request on their behalf.

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In the meritocracy of the visa program’s categorization of achievement, O-1 visas are the pinnacle. They are reserved for the best of the best who are in turn rewarded with a visa allowing them to stay and work in the United States for at least three years with the possibility of unlimited one-year extensions. Just how extraordinary does an individual need to be to warrant this visa? The good news is that there are specific metrics that are used to gauge the extraordinary nature of the petitioner. The bad news is that the metrics are extremely high. Depending upon the field of the individual, they must either show that they have extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement. Individuals in the sciences, arts, business, athletics, or education must be able to prove they have extraordinary ability. Individuals in motion pictures or television must be able to prove extraordinary achievement. And, of course, the individual must be coming to the U.S. to work in their area of extraordinary ability or achievement. Extraordinary ability: Individuals in the fields of education, science, athletics, or business will be deemed to have extraordinary ability in their field if they have achieved a level of expertise such that they have risen to the very top of their field. For individuals in the arts, ability is measured by distinction, specifically demonstrated by skill and recognition far above that which is usually seen. The foreign artist must prove that they are renowned, well-known, or leading in their particular field of the arts. Extraordinary achievement: For individuals in the fields of television or motion pictures, extraordinary achievement is defined as accomplishment at the very highest level as shown by skill and recognition that is much higher than what is usually seen. The individual must be known to be outstanding, leading, or notable. There is a high hurdle to securing an O-1 visa but it is not insurmountable. If you are a U.S. employer looking to sponsor a foreign national for an O-1 visa, do not be discouraged by the details.

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