O-1 Person of Extraordinary Ability

OVERVIEW OF O-1

The O nonimmigrant category is for the employment of persons who have achieved and sustained national or international acclaim for extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

O-1 is a category that is rarely used by Syracuse University because of the large amount of evidence necessary for approval of the O-1.  In many instances, H-1B is a much more appropriate employment visa category.  An O-1 will not be considered unless other options are not feasible.  Final determination of whether or not to pursue O-1 sponsorship will be made by the Slutzker Center for International Services.

To be considered eligible for O-1, the international applicant must have a job-offer from Syracuse University.  Only Syracuse University’s Slutzker Center for International Services may petition for the O-1 approval.  Employment approval is granted through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and is job specific as well as employer and department specific. 

International applicants and employees who are subject to the 212(e) two-year home residency requirement may be sponsored for O-1, but if the applicant is currently in the US in J visa status, the applicant must travel outside of the U.S. and apply for an O-1 visa in order to obtain O-1 visa status, since J visa holders who have a 212(e) requirement cannot change status to O-1 within the United States. 

The O-1 status may be granted initially for up to a three-year period, thereafter O-1s can be extended one year at a time with no maximum limitation. Workers in the O-1 category can fill permanent positions, but must leave the country at the end of their authorized period of stay.  A person in O-1 status is considered to have dual-intent with regards to immigration.  This means that while in O-1 status, workers may file for a change to another immigration category such as Permanent Residency if they are not subject to the 212(e) 2-year home residency requirement. 

TIMING OF FILING PLAN UP TO 1 YEAR IN ADVANCE

At the earliest, the Slutzker Center for International Services may submit an O-1 petition to US Citizenship and Immigration Services 1 year before the intended beginning effective date of the O-1.  Due to the long evidence collection process, it is recommended that departments begin any new O-1 application, extension, or amendment as close to 1 year in advance of the intended start date as possible.

If timing is a critical issue such as with a new professor hired in the summer months who must begin work at the beginning of the fall semester, departments have the option of filing for Premium Processing.  Premium Processing guarantees a decision on an O-1 petition within 15 days of the receipt by US Citizenship and Immigration Services of the I-129, O-1 application.  The cost of Premium Processing is $1225 in addition to the regular $325 application fee for O-1 applications.

 

ESTABLISHING EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY

Any applicant for O-1 must meet three basic requirements:

  1. The applicant has extraordinary ability within one of the five broad fields the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
  2. The applicant’s ability has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.
  3. The applicant is coming to the U.S. to continue working in his or her area of extraordinary ability.

Extraordinary ability is defined by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services as ability that shows a “person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” 

ESTABLISHING EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY IN SCIENCE, EDUCATION, BUSINESS, AND ATHLETICS:

Basis A: Receipt of an award with the caliber of the Nobel Prize:

Anyone who has received a major internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize (not just a nomination) will satisfy the requirement of evidence for establishing extraordinary ability.

Basis B: Documentation showing extraordinary ability:

An O-1 applicant can also establish extraordinary ability by submitting documentation in at least three (preferably four) of the categories listed below:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the field of endeavor;
  • Membership in associations in the field in which the O-1 applicant claims extraordinary ability.  Membership must require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievements;
  • Published material in professional publications written by others about the alien's work in the field in which the O-1 applicant claims extraordinary ability;
  • Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied field in which the O-1 applicant claims extraordinary ability;
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions in the field (as shown by letters of attestation and support from colleagues and other experts in the field);
  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field or in other major media;
  • Evidence that the applicant has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Evidence that the applicant has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, as shown by contracts or letters of employment.

ESTABLISHING EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY IN THE ARTS:

Basis A: Receipt of an award with the caliber of the Academy Award, Grammy, Emmy, or Directors Guild Award:

Anyone who has received a major internationally recognized award such as the Academy Award, Grammy, Emmy, or Director’s Guild Award (not just a nomination) will satisfy the requirement of evidence for establishing extraordinary ability.

Basis B: Documentation showing extraordinary ability:

An O-1 applicant can also establish extraordinary ability by developing and submitting documentation in at least three of the categories listed below:

  • Evidence that the applicant has and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions which have a distinguished reputation;
  • Evidence that the applicant has and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Published material in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications written by others about the applicant’s achievements and national or international recognition;
  • Evidence of major 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;
  • Evidence that the applicant has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the applicant is engaged. (as shown by letters of attestation and support from colleagues and other experts in the field);
  • Evidence that the applicant has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, as shown by contracts or letters of employment.

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE FROM THE DEPARTMENT:

Syracuse University must also seek the advisory opinion of an appropriate U.S. peer group and obtain a written advisory opinion regarding the nature of the work to be done and the O-1 applicant’s qualifications for the position.  The Slutzker Center for International Services will assist with meeting this requirement. 

FILING FEES

All O-1 Applications require an I-129 filing fee of $325.  Because the sponsorship of the O-1 is by Syracuse University, the department which is sponsoring the O-1 application must pay the $325 fee.

Additionally, if Premium Processing is being sought for an expedited service, there is an additional filing fee of $1225.