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Below are some key requirements you must fulfill to apply for an O-1A Visa. For each requirement, we have included forms of evidence that you may submit to meet the requirement and other tips to help you prepare your petition. 

 

 

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Requirement 1 - You must be able to establish that you have extraordinary ability in your field.   


The O-1A visa is for people who are recognized as being at the very top of their field and who are coming to the United States to continue work in that field.  To establish eligibility for an O-1A visa you must either have received a major, internationally recognized award, similar to a Nobel Prize, or submit evidence that affirmatively answers at least 3 of the 8 questions below:

  • Have you received a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence in the field of endeavor?
  • Are you a member of any associations which require outstanding achievements of their members as judged by recognized national or international experts?
  • Is there published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about you which relates to your work in the field?
  • Have you participated on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization?
  • Have you made original scientific, scholarly or business-related contributions of major significance?
  • Have you authored scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media?
  • Have you been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation?
  • Have you or will you command a high salary or other remuneration for your services?

 

Note: If the criteria discussed in this section do not readily apply to your occupation, you may submit comparable evidence in order to establish your eligibility. 

+ How do I demonstrate that I have received a major, internationally recognized prize or award?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that the award is a major, internationally recognized award includes:

  • The criteria used to grant the award
  • The significance of the award in the field
  • The reputation of the organization or the panel granting the award
  • Previous winners of the award who enjoyed international acclaim at the time of receiving the award
  • The award attracts competition from internationally recognized individuals in the field

+ 1) How do I show that I have received a nationally or internationally recognized award for excellence in my field?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that the award is a national or internationally recognized award includes:

 

  • Documentation verifying the origination, purpose, significance and scope of each award
  • Criteria used to nominate and judge the participants and award winners
  • The reputation of the organization or panel granting the prizes or awards
  • How many prizes or awards are awarded each year
  • Previous winners of each award

Note: If you have received venture capital funding or have been awarded a grant, you may submit evidence of the funding or grant awarded, including the amount of the funding or grant and the criteria used in awarding the funding or grant. Evidence of other investments, such as those from an accredited angel investor, may also be submitted.

+ 2) What evidence can I provide that establishes that I am a member of an association which requires outstanding achievements of its members?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you are a member of an association which requires outstanding achievements of its members includes:

  • The minimum requirements and criteria used to apply for membership
  • The number of members in the association
  • The status of the association within the national or international community in the field of endeavor
  • Evidence of national or international experts who make determinations about membership
  • Other relevant requirements for membership

+ 3) How do I demonstrate that material has been published about me, and my work in the field,in professional or major trade publications or major media?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that material has been published about you, and your work in the field, in professional or major trade publications or major media includes:

  • The name of the publication and a description of the significance of the published material
  • The circulation information of the published material (e.g. local, national or international circulation) and the number of copies provided for circulation
  • The frequency of the publication  

+ 4) How do I demonstrate that I have participated on a panel or was a judge of the works of others?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you have participated on a panel or was a judge of the works of others includes:
  • Evidence showing the significance of the work you judged
  • Information identifying the criteria used to select the judges
  • An explanation describing how and why you received an invitation to be a judge

+ 5) How do I demonstrate that I have made an original scientific, scholarly or business-related contribution of major significance?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you have made an original scientific, scholarly or business-related contribution of major significance includes:
  • Objective documentary evidence of the significance of your contribution to the field (e.g. patents, pioneering new technology, etc.)
  • Documentary evidence that people in the field of endeavor currently consider your  work important
  • Testimony or support letters from experts that discuss your contributions of major significance, which could include:
    • Letters of recommendation from prominent investors which describe, in detail, your achievements in and how such achievements are of a major significance in the field;
    • Letters from CEO’s/founders of distinguished organizations that detail your achievements and how they are of a major significance in the field.
  • Evidence that your major significant contributions have provoked widespread public commentary in the field of endeavor and have been widely cited;
  • Evidence of your work being implemented by others such as:
    • Contracts with companies using the beneficiary’s products;
    • Licensed technology being used by others; and
    • Patents currently being used and shown to be significant to the field.
  • If your business successes are primarily based on-line, evidence of website usage/visitor traffic to your website, including the number of individuals that have purchased and/or downloaded your product(s) or applications

Note: When submitting letters or testimonies, it is best to provide as much detail as possible about your contribution. They should explain, in detail, how the contribution was “original” (not merely replicating the work of others) and how they were of “major” significance. General statements regarding the importance of the endeavors are normally insufficient.

+ 6) How do I demonstrate authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media?

Some of the evidence you may submit, in addition to a copy of the articles, to demonstrate that you have authored articles in professional journals or other major media includes:
  • Other articles or documentary evidence (e.g. letters, affidavits) that show the significance and importance of the articles in your field
  • Evidence that demonstrates the work was primarily created by you
  • The significance and importance of the professional or major trade publications or other major media in which your scholarly article was published, which may be shown by submitting evidence of:
    • The publication’s circulation (e.g. local, national or international)
    • How often the publication is produced
    • The number of citations to your written work

+ 7) How do I demonstrate that I have been employed in a critical or essential capacity for an organization that has a distinguished reputation?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you have been employed in a critical or essential capacity for an organization that has a distinguished reputation includes:
  • A letter from the employer which establishes your employment in a critical capacity with the organization or establishment
  • Publications written about your employment in a critical or essential capacity
  • Publications recognizing the organization or establishment where you worked in the critical or essential capacity as having a distinguished reputation

+ 8) How do I demonstrate that I command or have commanded a high salary or other remuneration for my services?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you command or have commanded a high salary or other remuneration for your services includes:
  • Copies of employment contracts detailing the salary you were paid or will be paid
  • Copies of payroll documents or tax returns detailing the wage you were paid
  • Evidence establishing that you have received other significant forms of compensation for your services, which may include, but is not limited to, equity in-lieu of cash remuneration, deferred compensation, profits from the sale of a business you started, or other forms of remuneration in addition to salary
  • A statistical comparison of the salaries in the field in which you are starting your business from a government or private institution or a similar organization. The comparison should show that the salary or other remuneration you commanded, or will command, is significantly higher than that commanded by others in the field

Requirement 2 - The petition must be filed by a United States employer, a United States agent, or a foreign employer through a United States agent.   


While the regulations prohibit an O-1A beneficiary from petitioning for himself or herself, an entity owned by the beneficiary may be eligible to file the petition on behalf of the O-1A owner.       


Requirement 3 - You must obtain a consultation letter from an appropriate peer group.  


A consultation is an advisory opinion written by an individual or group with expertise in your field, which in some instances may be a labor and/or management organization, regarding the nature of your work and your qualifications. The consultation should describe your ability and achievements in your field.

 

I’m ready to apply, what’s next?

 

Once you have determined that the O-1A visa classification is the best pathway for you and you are ready to apply, you can find the full application process and legal requirements outlined on USCIS’s website.

 

Note: When submitting evidence to USCIS, it is important to fully and clearly explain how the submitted evidence establishes eligibility for petition approval. The more clearly the petitioner can articulate his or her eligibility, the more efficiently and consistently USCIS can review and process the petition and determine eligibility for the benefit sought.

 

 

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