The O-1 temporary worker visa status is designated for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, arts or athletics and individuals of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industries. The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) determines whether an individual qualifies for O-1 visa status. O-1 visas are initially valid for up to 3 years and may be extended in one-year increments.
To qualify as an individual of extraordinary ability a foreign national must show evidence of receipt of a major internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize or at least three of the following:
- Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field.
- Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding
achievements of their members, as judged by recognized experts in the field.
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the applicant's work.
- Evidence of participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the field.
- Evidence in the form of 5 or 6 letters from prominent colleagues who can confirm the applicant's original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance to the field.
- Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
- Evidence of commanding a high salary or other compensation for services. This category does not usually apply to academic positions.
Specifics of Approval
The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) decides whether an individual qualifies for O-1 classification. The O-1 visa is employer specific, which means that a USCIS approved petition submitted by the HIO only authorizes the individual to work in the position specified in the petition filed by Harvard. An individual who has an O-1 approval from another employer is not eligible to work at Harvard. An O-1 visa holder may work for more than one employer, but each employer must file a separate visa petition. The employer will be liable for the reasonable cost of return transportation of the applicant abroad if the applicant is dismissed from employment by the employer before the end of the period of authorized admission. For questions, please contact the HIO.