O1 Information

The O1, for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics, is a non-immigrant, employment-based visa classification. It requires that the employer file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), along with evidence of the alien's extraordinary ability. Such petitions are a substantial amount of work for the applicant. Typically, his/her entire professional career must be documented and supported with evidence.

Individuals who are subject to the J two-year home country residence requirement under previous J1/J2 classification, are eligible to apply for the O1. Such individuals, however, are not eligible for a change to O1 status within the US, but must apply for the O1 visa abroad, and re-enter the US in O1 status.

Policy: The ISSO will file this application for qualified individuals holding academic positions who may not otherwise qualify for H1B Temporary Worker status.

Time Limits: An initial O1 petition can be filed for up three years. Subsequent extensions may be for no more than one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of one year extensions possible.

Non-Cornell O's: It is possible for an individual, agent or attorney to petition for O1 status. For example, an agent could submit a petition for a famous personage to go on a speaking tour at multiple US locations. In these cases, non-Cornell O1's may be paid only if Cornell University was named in that O1's original I-129 petition to USCIS.

Requirements for Initial Cornell Sponsored O1 Petition

  • Cornell employment in an academic position. Letter from hiring department/unit must specify the dates for which work authorization is being requested; no more than three years.
  • Filing fee of $325, payable to USCIS.
  • Copy of CV and Diploma
  • Written opinions from recognized expert(s), in the field in the alien's area of ability that attest to the qualifications and value of the O1 applicant's contribution to the field of specialty.
  • Evidence of recognition, nationally and internationally, as extraordinary in the field of specialty. See application instructions for specific detail on documentary requirements and assembly of petition.
  • Copy of I-129 Data Sheet. See Application Instructions [.pdf] | [.doc]

O1 Extensions

Once an O1 has been approved, extensions do not require a reassessment of the O1's extraordinary contribution to the field. Thus, O1 extensions only require the following:

  • O1 request and support letter from hiring department/unit; no more than one year may be requested.
  • Filing fee of $325, payable to USCIS.
  • Copy of CV and Diploma
  • Copy of previous O1 I-797 Approval Notice(s)
  • Copy of current I-94 card
  • I-129 Data Sheet and completed "Certification Regarding the Release of Controlled Technology or Technical Data to Foreign Persons In the US" (completed by Hiring Department/Unit). See Application Instructions [.pdf] | [.doc]

O1 Travel

Information on travel and obtaining a O1 visa stamp can be found here.