The O-1 visa, as defined by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, is for the nonimmigrant alien who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
Referred to as the “genius” visa, the O-1 is granted based on the extraordinary merit of the nonimmigrant alien. There are no caps on how many O-1 visas can be issued annually.
The O-1 visa is a dual-intent visa, meaning the holder can be temporarily present in the U.S. legally and have the intention to immigrate.
There are two types of O-1 visas:
- O-1A for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television)
- O-1B for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
To qualify for either O-1 category, an applicant must provide adequate supporting documents and materials proving extraordinary ability. The labor certification process is more rigorous than for the H-1B visa, resulting in as few as 12,000 O-1 visas issued each year.