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Coverage of O Category

The O category is set-aside for aliens of "extraordinary" ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, certain aliens accompanying or assisting those aliens, and their family members. No numerical cap is placed on the annual admission of these aliens, but the definitions covering this category should serve effectively to limit the number of annual admissions.

The O-1 Category

The O-1 category is set-aside for the principal alien with extraordinary ability. The law establishes three different standards for the O-1 category: (1) the most exacting standard applies to aliens in the sciences, education, business, and athletics; (2) a much less rigorous standard applies to individual aliens in the arts; and (3) an intermediate standard applies to aliens of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or TV industries.

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Education, Business, and Athletics. With regard to the first group (aliens in the sciences, education, business, and athletics), the INS rules provide that only a person who is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of his or her field of endeavor qualifies for this type of extraordinary ability. To qualify for O-1 status, the alien 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 three 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 alien concerning the alien's work in the field (include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation)

    • participation on a panel, or individually, 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

    • high salary or other remuneration commanded by the alien for services (as evidenced by contracts or other reliably evidence)

    • other com arable evidence

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts. To qualify as a member of the second group of O-1 aliens (aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts), the INS rules require "distinction". "Distinction" means a high level of achievement in the field of arts as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person is described as prominent, leading, or well known in the field of arts.

The rules define the term "art" to include any field of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. In addition, aliens engaged in the field of 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, choreologists, conductors, orchestrates, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters stage technicians, and animal trainers. The INS' Administrative Appeals Office has held that a position of architect/urban designer also falls within the field of fine arts.



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