O-1 Visa Status

O-1 status is available to persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, athletics, and education. 

Qualifying for O-1 status is not particularly difficult for those who, according to their peers, have made outstanding contributions to their field.

To qualify as a person of extraordinary ability, there must be evidence that the visa beneficiary has earned a major internationally recognized award (Nobel Peace Prize, etc.) or at least three of the following:

  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  • Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized experts.
  • Evidence of the beneficiary’s authorship of scholarly articles in his or her field, in professional journals, or other major media.
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the beneficiary and his or her work.
  • Evidence of participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others.
  • Evidence in the form of letters or affidavits from prominent colleagues who can confirm the beneficiary’s original contributions of major significance to his or her field.
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has commanded and now commands a high salary or other compensation for services.

The beneficiary must also have a "peer group" write an advisory opinion of the evidence which concludes that the beneficiary has risen to the top of his or her field of endeavor. Learn more about the advisory opinion.

Application Process

Preparing and filing of an O-1 request depends on coordination between the hiring department, UC International and the beneficiary.

An O-1 nonimmigrant visa petition is filed by a U.S. employer on behalf of an employee. It entitles the visa holder to work only for the petitioning employer. It does not entitle the spouse or children of an O-1 visa holder to work.

The hiring department will have to prepare the following supporting documentation:

  1. A detailed letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicating job title and salary for the beneficiary, value of benefits, and a description of the beneficiary's anticipated duties.
  2. A letter of reference in support of the University of Cincinnati’s O-1 petition on behalf of the beneficiary, as well as a description of the departments other staff in the field, including the curriculum vitae for any particularly outstanding researchers in the department must be attached. The curriculum vitae of the Department Head must also be attached.
  3. Copies of articles from the popular and professional press describing the University of Cincinnati, its work, and the competition and challenges it faces, for example--receiving federal grant monies.
  4. The name of the University of Cincinnati’s Congressperson or Senator, and an indication whether the University has a relationship with him or her.
  5. A statement that the department will provide "return transportation abroad" in the event the O-1 employee is terminated before the expiration of his/her visa status.
  6. Submitting the Export Controls Checklist

The Beneficiary will have to compile the required supporting documentation as to his/her qualifications for the status including:

  1. Letters of reference from prominent colleagues who can confirm his/her original contributions of major significance to his or her field and prove that beneficiary satisfies the DHS definition of extraordinary.
  2. A "peer group" or "expert" advisory opinion. The advisory opinion can be issued by an expert in the field or preferably a labor or professional organization. The advisory opinion for O-1 extraordinary ability must describe 
    1. the applicant’s ability and achievements in the field of endeavor, 
    2. the nature of the duties to be performed, and 
    3. whether the position requires somebody of extraordinary ability.
  3. A detailed description of the beneficiary’s past and ongoing work in the field.
  4. Copies of the beneficiary’s most important (full-length and abstract) articles from professional journals with a brief description of the significance of each article, as well as evidence of presentation of articles or lectures at conferences or seminars. 
  5. Copies of materials published in professional or major trade publications including, for example, citations to his or her work, or in major media about his or her work.
  6. Evidence of the beneficiary’s participation in a panel or individually, as the judge of the work of others in his field, for example, peer review of papers or other work of colleagues.
  7. The beneficiary’s degrees, along with any board certifications, awards, patents, memberships in professional associations, evidence of completion of fellowships and other evidence of his or her qualifications. 
  8. Copies of all documentation relating to the beneficiary’s and his or her immediate family’s immigration status, including copies of all certificates of eligibility (DS-2019 or I-20), all pages of passports, I-94 record.
  9. If providing patient care, a copy of the license to practice medicine in the State of Ohio must be provided.

Any documents in a foreign language must be submitted to the DHS with certified translations, signed by the translator, using the following language: "I, (state name), hereby certify that I am competent to render a translation from the (state language) language to English language, and further that the foregoing is a true, complete and accurate translation of the (document being translated), dated (give date)."

The O-1 application (I-129) will be compiled by UC international and sent to the DHS. The hiring department and the beneficiary compile the required documentation and submit it to UC International with a check for the I-129 filing fee

Generally, the DHS processes O-1 visa petitions more quickly than many other types of visa petitions--within one to two months of filing.

If the O-1 petition is approved, you will receive O-1 status provided you have never been "out of status."

  • If you have been "out of status," or is a J-1 visa holder subject to the two-year home residency requirement, you will have to depart the US to obtain an O-1 visa at a US consulate or embassy.
  • If you maintained status, you can go to the US consulate / embassy in Canada or Mexico.