The O classification is for persons of “extraordinary” ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Certain essential personnel accompanying or assisting those persons, as well as their family members, may also enter in this category.
Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Education, Business, and Athletics
Only a person who is among one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of his or her field of specialty qualifies.
To qualify the applicant must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing evidence of:
Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, OR
At least 3 of the following forms of documentation:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
- Membership in association in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members (as judged by recognized national or international experts in the discipline or fields)
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the person concerning the his or her work in the field
- Participation as a judge of the work of others in the field
- Scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
- Authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media
- Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts
The applicant must have “distinction,” meaning a high level of achievement in the field of arts as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. The applicant can show that he or she is considered prominent, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.
“Art” includes any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to:
- fine arts
- visual arts
- culinary arts and
- performing arts.
In addition, persons engaged in the arts include not only the principal creators and performers but other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, conductors, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters stage technicians, and animal trainers.
To establish the person’s distinction, the person must be recognized as being prominent in his or her field by evidencing the following:
Nomination for or has been the recipient of significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award, OR
At least 3 of the following forms of documentation that the alien:
- Has or will perform a lead or starring role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation (as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications contracts, or endorsements)
- 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)
- Has performed 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)
- 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)
- 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 clearly indicate the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements)
- Has commanded or now commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field (as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence), or
- Other comparable evidence.
Aliens of Extraordinary Achievement in the Motion Picture or TV Industries
To qualify as a person of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industries, it must be shown that the applicant has a very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry. This must be demonstrated by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the motion picture or television field.
O-2 and O-3 Visas for Essential Support Members and Family
The O-2 visa category is reserved for persons accompanying and assisting a principal O-1 visa holder in certain artistic or athletic events. The O-3 visa allows spouses and children to accompany principal family members in the O category.