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Immigration regulations define extraordinary ability as a “level of expertise indicating that the person is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”

O-1 status is available to foreign nationals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation, and seek to enter the U.S. to continue to work in the area of extraordinary ability.

Eligibility for O-1 Status-Documentary Evidence Needed

Receipt of a major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, or at least three of the following:

  • Documentation of receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence in the individuals field;
  • Documentation of membership in associations in the field for which the classification is sought, which require for membership outstanding achievement, as judged by national or international experts in their disciplines, or fields;
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or other major media about the alien and related to the alien’s work in the field for which the classification is sought. (this should include the title, date, and author of the published material, and any translation if necessary).
  • Evidence of the alien’s participation on a panel or individually as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization for which the classifications sought;
  • Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or the major media ;
  • Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Evidence that the alien has commanded or will command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others in the field (as proven by contracts or other evidence).

Ending O-1 Status

O-1 status is tied to employment as outlined on Form I-129. Once O-1 employment ends, there is no grace period and immediate departure from the U.S. is required. In some cases, immigration notes a 10 day grace period at the conclusion of the period of approved O-1 employment on Form I-94. This grace period only applies if it is included on the current Form I-94.

It is important to report the final departure to ensure the accuracy of an individual’s immigration records and in order to preserve certain future immigration options. Before departing the U.S. or the University,  an individual must complete a Departure Notice and submit it to the department and ISSS.  The departure information is needed in order to accurately report it to the various immigration and government agencies.

If the department terminates employment prior to the expiration date of the O-1, they must offer to pay the reasonable costs of return transportation for the individual to the last place of foreign residence or to their home country. The scholar does not have to accept this offer. But if the scholar decides to end the employment early, the department is not responsible for these costs.  The department is not responsible for the costs of return transportation for a scholar’s family or personal belongings.