O-1 Eligibility and Documentation

See below for an explanation on the eligibility for establishing that the beneficiary possesses extraordinary ability. USCIS considers the quality of the evidence provided and not just whether the minimum amount of documentation has been submitted.

Eligibility within the Sciences, Education, Business, Athletics

There are 2 main bases in which extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business and athletics may be demonstrated.

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. It is not sufficient to have been nominated; he or she must have received the award. 

Basis B: Documentation Showing Extraordinary Ability

The individual must demonstrate at least three of the following:

  • Documentation of the alien's receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  • Documentation of the alien'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;
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien, relating to the alien's work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;
  • Evidence of the alien's participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought;
  • Evidence of the alien's original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
  • Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Eligibility within the Arts

There are 2 main bases in which an extraordinary ability in the creative arts (fine arts, visual arts, performing arts, visiting curator) may be demonstrated.

Basis A: Receipt of a National or International Award or Prize

An individual may qualify for the O-1 category based on the receipt of an award such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy or a Director’s Guild Award.  It is not sufficient to have been nominated; he or she must have received the award. 

Basis B: Documentation Showing Extraordinary Ability

The individual must demonstrate at least three of the following:

  • Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications contracts, or endorsements;
  • Evidence that the alien has achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the alien has performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  • Evidence that the alien has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the alien has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author's authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien's achievements; or
  • Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence

Documentation

Documentation of the above eligibility is required and may be in the form of affidavits, contracts, awards, or other types of documentation.  

A written Advisory Opinion must accompany an O-1 petition from a peer review group such as an appropriate consulting entity or labor organization.

The documentation should also be supported by letters from experts who can establish the outstanding nature of the beneficiary’s contributions to the field of endeavor.

The Beneficiary should be prepared to gather this evidence in collaboration with the selected attorney.