O-1 for Extraordinary Ability or Achievement Individuals

O-1 visa sponsorship is offered to individuals with proven extraordinary ability with sustained national or international acclaim.

"Extraordinary" Defined
For O-1 visa purposes, the "extraordinary" standard is defined differently depending upon the foreign national's field of expertise.  For foreign nationals in science, education, business and athletics, the term "extraordinary ability" is defined as a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentages of professionals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.
 
Eligibility Requirements
To qualify as an individual of extraordinary ability in science, the applicant must have received a major internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize. It is also possible to qualify for O-1 visa status by meeting other very specific requirements outlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Consult with Immigration Services to further discuss these qualifications.

Maximum Period of Stay
O-1 status is valid initially for up to three years. In the event that three years is not adequate time to complete the project, or if the project is ongoing, an O-1 visa can be renewed indefinitely in three-year increments.
 
Spouses and Children of O-1 Visa Holders
O-3 status is available to dependents of O-1 principal.  Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany the principal O-1 visa holder in the United States (or join him/her at a later date) for the duration of his or her stay require O-3 visas.
 
O-3 visa holders are eligible for employment authorization. However, before the O-3 visa holder can work, he or she must make an application to USCIS and be approved for permission to work. A Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document Card (EAD) must be filed with the local USCIS office that serves the area where he or she lives.

How to Apply for an O-1 Visa
The application process for obtaining an O-1 visa is similar to obtaining an H-1B visa. Before a foreign national can begin working with any employer in the U.S., the USCIS requires the employer or its representative to file all O-1 applications on behalf of the foreign national.
 
Foreign nationals cannot apply for an O-1 visa through the USCIS on their own behalf. The employer or its representative must mail the application with the proper fees included to the USCIS California Service Center.
 
A formal O-1 petition is required.  City of Hope’s International Students and Scholar Office prepares and files an O-1 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The preparation process can take approximately 8 weeks before the petition is filed.  Once the petition is filed, USCIS may take an additional 2 to 16 weeks to adjudicate.  Once the petition is approved, foreign national will then apply for an O-1 visa at a U.S. consulate.
 
If a foreign national is currently in the United States under another nonimmigrant status (e.g. H-1B or J-1), they may be eligible to apply for a change of status within the United States without applying for an H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. consulate. 
 
Contact the International Students and Scholars Office at [email protected] for details of O-1 visa sponsorship.