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O-1 Visa for Extraordinary Ability

When someone with extraordinary ability needs to enter America for work, they need an O1 visa. These are how professional athletes, renowned foreign artists, and famous actors visit. Expert economists, Nobel Prize-winning scientists, and published professors can use them to enter the U.S. We have experience handling these visas and provide advice and representation to secure your O1 visa.

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    • Step 1: Initial Consultation with SimVisa

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    • Step 3: SimVisa Prepares Application Package with Evidence

    • Step 4: A SimVisa Attorney Reviews Your Application Package

    • Step 5: SimVisa Submits an Application to USCIS For You

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    • Step 1: SimVisa collected information and documents from you through our online portal

    • Step 2: SimVisa fills out your forms and prepares your supporting documents

    • Step 3: A SimVisa immigration attorney goes over your filled-out application and supporting documents with you (1-hour video consultation)

    • Step 4: SimVisa finalizes your packet with attorney approval

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All You Need to Know

Chicago O-1 Visa Lawyer

SimVisa has experience with all types of immigrant and non-immigrant visas. When you hire us, we assess your situation and provide legal guidance about your options for entering the U.S. 

An O1 visa lawyer from SimVisa will answer your questions, prepare documents, and shepherd your application through the application process. And after your visa gets issued, we will help you secure the documents to bring your family with you. We handle cases for employers and agents across the nation and professionals around the world.

What Is an O-1 Visa?

An O-1 visa gives people with extraordinary abilities the right to enter the U.S. for work. O1 visas are distinct because they are not capped like other work visas. They also allow you to work and earn a salary, unlike tourist visas.

o1 visa lawyer

To obtain an O-1 visa, you must demonstrate extraordinary ability in:

  • Athletics
  • Science
  • Education
  • Art
  • Motion pictures
  • Television
  • Business

You will demonstrate your ability by submitting documents.

What Are the Different Types of O-1 Visas?

O-1 visas are just one type of O visa. These visas all relate to someone of extraordinary ability, their assistant, or their family members.

The types of O visas include:

  • O-1A visa for people with extraordinary ability in science, education, business, or athletics;
  • O-1B visa for people with extraordinary ability in the visual, musical, or performing arts, including the motion picture and television industry;
  • O-2 visa for support personnel who accompany the O-1 visa holder to act in a critical or essential capacity in their activity or performance;
  • O-3 visa for the spouse and unmarried minor children of the O-1 visa holder.

People who do not fall into these categories may still accompany the O-1 visa holder to the U.S. But they will need to apply for another category of visa, such as a tourist visa or an employment-based visa.

Who Is Eligible for an O-1 Visa?

To receive an O-1 visa, you must meet several eligibility requirements, including:

Extraordinary Ability

extraordinary ability visa

You show evidence of your ability in a few ways:

  • A record of extraordinary achievement according to recognized experts in your field;
  • Sustained national or international recognition of your expertise;
  • International acclaim or an internationally-recognized award in your field, like a Nobel Prize or Academy Award;
  • Scholarly articles or other published material in major trade publications or professional journals.

Some other terms used by the USCIS to describe the level of ability you must demonstrate include:

  • Distinction
  • High level of achievement
  • Skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered
  • Prominent
  • Renowned
  • Leading
  • Well-known

The O-1 is not available to just anyone. For example, getting asked to speak at a conference might not be enough for an O-1 visa. You must still demonstrate national or international recognition of your abilities, achievements, and awards.

Coming to the U.S. for Temporary Work

The O-1 is a temporary work visa. The U.S. requires non-citizens to have a visa to work. If you are only entering the U.S. to accept an internationally recognized award, you do not need an O-1. But if you will be compensated to teach a class, you need an O-1.

Your Work Relates to Your Extraordinary Ability

Your temporary work must relate to your area of expertise. Someone with business-related contributions cannot get an O-1 to tour with a band.

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay

o1 visa attorney

When you apply for your O-1, your employer will submit a copy of your itinerary. The USCIS will set your initial period of stay to the length of your activity, up to three years. If your commitment has not been completed, you can extend your visa indefinitely in one-year increments.

In other words, if you have a two-year contract to play baseball, you will get a two-year period of stay. If you have a five-year contract as a visiting professor, you will get a three-year initial period of stay and will be eligible for two extensions in one-year increments.

O-1 Visa Petition Process

The person who needs the O-1 cannot apply for it. Instead, the petition must be filed by:

  • The U.S. employer;
  • An agent working for a person and their U.S. employer;
  • An agent for a non-U.S. employer.

Agents can also file on behalf of multiple employers. Thus, if you plan to teach at one university during the school year and another during the summer semester, the universities can hire one agent to file for both.

The petitioner cannot file the petition more than one year before your temporary employment begins. But due to the projected processing times, the petitioner should file at least 45 days before the start date.

The petitioner will file supporting documentation with the petition. This documentation will provide evidence of your business-related contributions, fame in the motion picture or television industry, and other evidence showing significant recognition of your expertise, skills, and abilities.

The USCIS will also expect a written advisory opinion from a peer group or labor union explaining your distinguished reputation and outstanding achievements. You may be able to submit comparable evidence if your industry is too small to have a recognized national or international peer group.

How Can SimVisa Help with an O-1 Visa?

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SimVisa can assist you throughout the O-1 application process.

We will:

  • Evaluate your qualifications for an O-1 by reviewing your achievements, recognitions, and awards;
  • Prepare a personalized case strategy to meet the laws and regulations about how to prove distinguished reputations in art, music, education, business, or athletics;
  • Gather the documentation to show your contributions to your field have major significance, including published material, major media appearances, and scholarly articles in professional journals;
  • Develop other reliable evidence of your distinguished reputation, such as major commercial success, high salary, internationally recognized prizes, international awards, and other sufficient evidence that you are at the very top of your field;
  • Conduct a thorough review of your application and the documentation of your extraordinary achievement before filing;
  • File your application along with supporting evidence;
  • Provide support during the pendency of your application by answering any questions that arise and responding to any inquiries from USCIS;
  • Monitor your application and provide timely updates.

After you receive your visa, we can assist you with O-2 and O-3 filings for your assistants and family members. We can also request extensions to ensure you comply with the terms of your visa.

SohYoon Atac
Co-founder of SimVisa with over 17 years of experience in immigration law.


  • Juris Doctorate - Chicago Kent College of Law
  • Bachelor's Degree - The University of Chicago
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Why Choose SimVisa's O-1 Visa Lawyers?

An O-1 lawyer from SimVisa provides knowledgeable advice about your visa options. When you hire SimVisa, our visa lawyer will provide:

  • Extensive experience dealing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service;
  • Knowledge of the type of evidence and arguments the USCIS typically accepts to establish eligibility for an O-1;
  • Personalized attention to your circumstances and case.

Contact us for a tailored plan for your situation.

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FAQs About O-1 Visa

Our clients have a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of those most frequently asked.

How much does an O-1 visa cost?

The USCIS charges a non-refundable application fee of $460. You can request premium processing for an additional fee of $2,500. Premium processing gets you a decision within 15 days. Once the O-1 visa is approved, USCIS will charge you a fee of $220 to issue the visa.

How hard is it to get an O-1A visa?

Since there are no quotas for O-1A visas, you should receive one once you establish eligibility. But the USCIS strictly enforces the rules that require outstanding achievements, so you should have ample evidence to prove you have significant recognition and a distinguished reputation in your field for your extraordinary abilities.

Who pays for an O-1 visa?

Either you or the petitioner can pay the O-1 fees. You should work this issue out with the agent or employer filing the petition before it gets submitted. Sometimes, the employer will offer to pay visa fees and any legal fees incurred. In other cases, the employer may leave it to you to pay the fees.

Can I include my family members in my O-1 visa application?

No, O-1 applications are strictly for individuals with extraordinary achievements and abilities. Families must file an O-3 application to enter the U.S. with the O-1 holder. They can file the O-3 application simultaneously with the O-1 application or after the visa has been granted. They cannot file an O-3 while the O-1 application is pending. If you fail to meet the filing date, you must wait.

What types of evidence are required to demonstrate national or international recognition for an O-1 visa?

The USCIS accepts all types of evidence and documentation to establish eligibility. Some examples include:

  • Articles in major media outlets discussing your achievements;
  • Evidence of the major commercial success of your ventures or performances;
  • Letters from peers describing the major significance of your work;
  • Published material, such as articles and books, you have produced during your career;
  • Financial records that show you earn a high salary for your expertise;
  • Box office receipts and critical reviews for your performances.

Bear in mind that the USCIS is not necessarily looking for fame. They are looking for high achievement and recognition significantly establishing that level of achievement. For example, you do not need your work published in a major media outlet. Instead, you need your work published in outlets recognized in your field

What happens if my O-1 visa application is denied? Is there an appeal process?

After an application is denied, you typically have 30 days to file a notice of appeal or a motion to reopen your case. This will give you a second chance to persuade the USCIS that you meet the eligibility requirements for an O-1.

The decision to file an appeal or motion will depend on the grounds for the denial. You should speak to a visa lawyer about your case so you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

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Contact Your O-1 Visa Lawyers Today!

SimVisa provides knowledgeable and experienced representation to visa applicants. Contact us to discuss your needs and learn how we can help you reach your goals.