O-1 Visa - Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
The O-1 category is available to foreign nationals 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.
The O-1 visa category has the following key features:
Length of Stay in the U.S.
The O-1 petition and approval process takes approximately 3 to 4 months. U-M can submit an O-1 up to 6 months before the intended start date. If needed, USCIS offers an option for expediting O-1 petitions called “premium processing.” There is a special fee for this service in addition to the normal USCIS filing fee. For information on the latest O-1 fees, refer to the Fee Schedule for Employment-Based Visas.
Premium processing can reduce O-1 processing times significantly. However, you should be aware that premium processing only promises a response to the petition within 15 days. If USCIS requires additional information, they may respond with a Request for Evidence (RFE). Once USCIS receives the additional evidence that you submit in response, the 15-day clock begins again. USCIS approval of the O-1 visa petition is not guaranteed within 15 days.
The hiring department is responsible for paying the legal fees, filing fees and costs associated with the O-1 petition. The foreign national is responsible for paying dependent and visa related fees. For a listing of the latest fees, refer to the Fee Schedule for Employment-Based Visas.
How to Apply for an O-1 Visa
University of Michigan sponsored O-1 and O-1 extension cases must be processed by attorneys officially retained by the U-M Office of the Vice President and General Counsel. For additional information, refer to Retained Immigration Attorney Process. To request an immigration attorney, complete and submit the Request for Retained Immigration Counsel Form to the U-M International Center.
The following documentation is needed to petition for an O-1 visa:
Basis A: Receipt of a Nobel Prize Caliber Award
An individual may qualify for the O-1 category based on the receipt of the Nobel Prize or other award of similar international standing.
Basis B: Documentation Showing Extraordinary Ability
The individual must demonstrate at least three of the following:
Merely providing three sources of evidence does not establish that the foreign national possesses extraordinary ability. USCIS considers the quality of the evidence provided and not just whether the minimum amount of documentation has been submitted.
Documented evidence for an O-1 petition may be in the form of:
Photocopies of all documents are acceptable. All documents that are not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation
Spouse and dependents (unmarried children under 21 years of age) of O-1 workers are eligible for O-3 status. No employment is permitted for O-3 dependents. Individuals in O-3 status may attend academic institutions as long as the educational program does not include paid employment (e.g, co-op or research assistantship).
Travel Outside the U.S. and Reentry
When a foreign national in O-1 status wishes to leave the United States temporarily and return to continue his or her approved employment, he or she must carry appropriate documentation to gain reentry to the U.S. Reentry documentation generally includes:
Last reviewed: 1/09