The O-1 visa is for a person of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, athletics or business. The O-1 requires a petition be filed by a legal entity distinct from the beneficiary, which can include an agent/manager in the case of an entertainer. Note that there is no self-petitioning allowed as there is with the “EB-1” Extraordinary Ability category for Green Card.
An entrepreneur/ businessperson with documented success abroad or in the United States may qualify for an O-1 with substantial documentation.
To qualify for O-1 status, the petitioner must document that the beneficiary has received a major award or meets at least three of the following:
- Receipt of national or internationally recognize prizes;
- Membership in associations that require outstanding achievement of members;
- Published material in professional, trade, or other media about the alien’s work;
- Participation on a panel judging the work of others in the field;
- Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions;
- Authorship and publication of scholarly articles in journals or other media;
- Previous employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations with a distinguished reputation;
- Has or will command a high salary; and
- Any other comparable criteria that more readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation.
Satisfying three of the criteria, however, might not be sufficient. Most O-1 petitions will need to include several letters from experts in the field attesting to the qualifications of the beneficiary. In addition to the evidentiary requirements mentioned above, the O-1 category requires a written advisory opinion from a recognized peer group or expert in the area of extraordinary ability. If a union or similar collective bargaining organization exists for the profession, the advisory opinion must be obtained from this organization. It is unlikely that a union or similar organization will exist in the case of an investor/manager. Therefore, an opinion from a qualified expert in the field will satisfy this requirement if it provides details to explain why the person is extraordinary.