O-1 & O-3

An O-1 visa is for foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, arts or athletics and individuals of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industries.

It permits the foreign nationals to be employed temporarily for up to three years initially, and extend one year incrementally with no time limit.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services determine whether the applicant is qualified for an O-1 status by reviewing the submitted evidence.

What are eligibility requirements?

To be qualified for O-1 status, an individual of extraordinary ability in the field of science must demonstrate sustained national and international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing evidence of the following:

  1. Receipt of a major internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize OR
  2. At least three of the following forms of documentation:
  • A. Documentation of the international’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • B. Documentation of the international’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields
  • C. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the international, relating to the international’s work in the field, which needs to include the title, date, and author of the published material and any necessary translation
  • D. Evidence of participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied field of specialization
  • E. Evidence of original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • F. Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals or other major media
  • G. Evidence that the international has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
  • H. Evidence that the international commands a higher salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence

3) If the above criteria do not readily apply, comparable evidence may be submitted to establish the international’s eligibility.

How do the family member(s) come along with O-1 visa holder?
The O-1 visa holder’s spouse and child or children under the age of 21 may apply for O-3 visa to accompany the O-1 visa holder or join later. The duration of O-3 visa status depends on the duration of O-1 visa. The O-3 visa holder is not permitted to be employed but may engage in educational activities such as attending school or classes provided that such activities do not include any paid employment.

Are J nonimmigrants subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement eligible for O-1 visa?
The former J-1 exchange visitors are eligible to apply for O-1 visa but cannot change their status from J-1 to O-1. Once the O-1 petition is approved by USCSI, the J-1 scholar must leave the U.S. and apply for an O-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to enter the U.S. in O-1 status.

To learn more about obtaining an O-1 at UCSF, please visit our How to apply for an O-1 at UCSF page.