There are two types of O-1 visas, and one of them may apply to you.

The O-1A visa is for extraordinary individuals in the sciences, athletics, or business.

O-1 VisaThat means it applies to entrepreneurs and startup founders (especially if you participated in an accelerator and received institutional venture capital), engineers, scientists, researchers, technologists, and other business executives with professional accomplishments that satisfy at least 3 of the 8 O-1A visa criteria set forth below.

The O-1B visa, on the other hand, is for extraordinary individuals who have distinguished themselves in the arts, such as famous actors and entertainers, who meet at least 3 of the 6 O-1B visa criteria set forth below.

O-1 Visa Advantages

O-1A and O-1B visas require that you a contract with a U.S. employer or agent (who petitions for you), allow you to work for that employer or agent for 3 years, and offer you a tremendous number of advantages, including:

  • You can renew your O-1 visa indefinitely.
  • You can travel freely in and out of the United States.
  • You can petition for it at any time.
  • You can request premium (expedited) processing and receive a response within 15 days.
  • You don’t need a university degree.
  • You can pay yourself whatever you want because there’s no minimum salary requirement.
  • You don’t have to deal with a limit (or lottery) on the number of O-1 visas available.
  • You can obtain another O-1 visa with a new employer (who files another petition for you).
  • You can position yourself nicely for permanent residency (a green card) in the future.

Now, let’s see if you qualify.

O-1A Visa Criteria (Sciences, Athletics or Business)

To establish that you have “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, athletics, or business, you must either demonstrate a one-time achievement that is clearly extraordinary (such as a Noble prize) or satisfy at least 3 of the following 8 criteria — which, by the way, post-accelerator startup founders almost always do:

  1. Awards: Did you receive a prestigious prize or award for excellence in your industry? (Note: If you founded a startup that received a significant amount of institutional venture capital, then you can meet this criterion.)
  2. Membership: Are or were you a member of a highly selective group or association in your field? (Note: Participation in a prestigious accelerator for startup founders satisfies this criterion.)
  3. Press: Has there been major media press coverage about you, your accomplishments, or your U.S. company? (Note: Startup founders who receive institutional venture capital can almost always meet this criterion.)
  4. Judging: Have you participated as a judge, referree or reviewer in a competition involving others in your field? (Note: It doesn’t need to be “Shark Tank.”)
  5. Critical Employment: Have you served in a critical or essential role for a company or organization with a distinguished reputation? (Note: If you founded a venture-backed company, then you’ll meet this criterion.)
  6. High Remuneration: Have you commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for your services in relation to what others receive in your field? (Note: If you received significant equity in a venture-backed company or high compensation with a previous employer, then you’ll meet this criterion.)
  7. Original Contributions: Do you have any original technological, scholarly, scientific, athletic, or business-related inventions or other contributions of major significance in your field?
  8. Scholarly Articles: Have you written and published any scholarly articles in your field? If so, then you can meet this criterion, too.

Remember: You only need to satisfy 3 of the 8 criteria above to qualify for an O-1A visa, and if you founded a startup company that received institutional venture capital, you’re probably good to go!

O-1B Visa Criteria (the Arts)

To establish that you have “extraordinary ability” in the arts, you must either show a one-time major achievement (such as an Academy Award, Emmy, or a foreign equivalent) or satisfy at least 3 of the following 6 criteria:

  1. Lead or Starring Participant in Productions or Events: Did you or will you perform services as a lead or starring participant or role in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by reviews, ads, publicity, publications, contracts or endorsements?
  2. Lead, Starring or Critical Role for Organizations and Establishments: Did you or will you perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, publications, trade journals, or testimonials?
  3. National or International Recognition by Publications: Have you achieved national or international recognition for your achievements, as evidenced by critical reviews and other published materials by or about you in major trade journals, newspapers, magazines, or other publications?
  4. Record of Successes: Do you have a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, box office receipts, standing in the industry, motion picture or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in industry publications?
  5. Significant Recognition from Experts: Have you received significant recognition for your achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other experts in your field, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s expertise, authority, credibilty, and knowledge of your achievements?
  6. High Remuneration: Have you received a high salary or other substantial remuneration for your services in relations to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable documentation?

Interested in an O-1A or O-1B visa?

Schedule a consultation about how to get your O-1 visa now!