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O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

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O-1 Overview

The O-1 classification applies to an individual who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, or business; who has "risen to the top of his/her field" which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim; and who is coming to the U.S. to work in the area of extraordinary ability.  The services the individual will perform must involve a "temporary" event or project such as a scientific project or academic year, in which the individual will play a critical role on a temporary basis.

The O-1 classification may be used to employ an individual who as a J-1 Exchange Visitor became subject to the two-year home residence requirement, and is therefore prohibited from holding the H-1B Temporary Worker status. 

Eligibility for the O-1 Classification

A petition for an O-1 foreign national of extraordinary ability must be accompanied by evidence of:

  1. Receipt of a major internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize;  OR
  2. At least three, but preferably more than three of the following forms of documentation:
    • Documentation of the foreign national's receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • Documentation of the foreign national's membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members for selection/election to membership, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
    • Published material about the foreign national in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to the foreign national's work in the field for which classification is sought.  Such evidence shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation;
    • Evidence of the foreign national's participation, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specification for which classification is sought;
    • Evidence of the foreign national's original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
    • Evidence of the foreign national's authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
    • Evidence of the display of the foreign national's work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
    • Evidence that the foreign national has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
    •  Evidence that the foreign national has commanded and now commands a high salary or other remuneration for services, as compared to others in similar positions,  evidenced by contracts and other reliable evidence

in addition to:

  • Written evidence from an appropriate peer group, (i.e., an association or entity with expertise in that area, signed by an authorized official of the organization,) describing the foreign national's ability and achievements in the field of endeavor and stating whether the position requires the services of a foreign national of extraordinary ability.

How to Apply

UC Davis will consider filing O-1 petitions for scholars:

  • who meet the evidentiary requirements,
  • for whom another status would not be available and effective, and
  • for whom the host department is proposing appointment in a faculty or full-time professional research position.

If it is possible to present sufficient evidence for a prospective temporary worker to qualify for sponsorship for the O-1 classification, the sponsoring department should complete the O-1 Request Form and contact SISS for further consultation.


For all forms, please go to the Department section of the Resources and Forms tab.