US O-1A Visa: Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or sport

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Applicants for this category must be able to show that they have extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or sport. This ability must be recognised at a national or international level by a legitimate body – such reputable universities, business associations, or sports governing bodies.

The eligibility criteria for the O-1A are almost identical to those of the EB-1 Green Card. But there are 3 key differences:

  • The O-1A does not grant the holder legal permanent residence

  • The O-1A requires the applicant to have a US job offer before applying

  • The O-1A does not cover those with extraordinary ability in the arts

Offer of employment

O-1A visa applicants must have a confirmed US job offer before they apply


There are 8 criteria for the O-1A visa, applicants must meet at least 3 of these for their visa to be granted. However, evidence of having been awarded a highly acclaimed prize or award – such as a Nobel prize, Oscar, or Olympic medal – allows applicants to bypass these eligibility criteria.

Evidence of at least 3 of the following criteria is required:

  • A national or international prize or award for excellence or ability in your field

  • Membership of exclusive associations which require extraordinary ability to join

  • Published material regarding your ability in journals, trade publications, and other major media outlets

  • Having worked as a a judge of others' work in your field

  • Having made significant original contributions to your field

  • Having published academic work/articles related to your field in journals, trade publications, and other major media outlets

  • Having performed an essential or leading role in organisations related to your field

  • Earning a salary appropriate to a high level of expertise in your field

  • Some other proof of your exceptional ability is sometimes accepted, please contact us if you're not sure if the evidence you have is suitable

Further information, help, and advice's team of specialists has over 25 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

For more information and advice on US immigration law and US visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at