Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Chapter 1 – Introduction O1 and EB1 Visas



The O1 visa was introduced in 1990 to cater for non-immigrants who could be classed as persons of extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, and for those with extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

It's very easy to think that the words extraordinary and exceptional are easily interchangeable. However, for US immigration purposes, each of these words have distinct meanings.

Extraordinary Ability: The legal term extraordinary ability seeks to identify those persons who have reached the very top of their professions. In other words, extraordinary ability might be reserved for the chief engineer, chief surgeon, and principal lecturer. Extraordinary ability in the arts could be someone who has had several hit records, or is highly regarded in their artistic field as someone who is at the top of their profession due to critical acclaim.  Maybe that person gets invited to play at nationally acclaimed events, such as, The Royal Albert Hall in London, or is regularly invited to perform for national dignitaries because of their extraordinary talent / ability.

O1 Visa Very few musicians get signed to a major record label, possibly less that 1% so even getting signed to a major label could be significant.  In addition to reaching the top of your profession, in most cases but not all, the success has to be sustained to some degree, unless the achievement is so big that attaining it once is sufficient for a life time, e.g., as Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Emmy, BAFTA, Ivor Novello, SAG, Platinum selling and so forth. Athletes, who play or compete in a professional or amateur league nationally and internationally, may be considered at the top of their field.

Exceptional Ability: In essence this refers to people who have advanced skills, persons who have advanced degrees such as a master of arts degree, Law degree, doctorates, etc, people. These are people who have acquired exceptional abilities.  However, these exceptional abilities will not qualify a person for the coveted O-1 visa or, as will be discussed below, priority worker status (EB1).

Non-Immigrant vs. Immigrant Visas

It is important to cover the crucial distinction between a non-immigrant visa and an immigrant visa. US immigration officials are very sensitive as to how you refer to yourself when coming to America.  Many non-immigrant visas grant the holder the right to stay in the US for many years providing the holder renews their visa at the required intervals. However, no matter how long the holder stays in the US, at no time should they refer to themselves to a US immigration official as wanting to live or reside in the US on this non-immigrant visa. Section 214(b) of the INA specifically states that the holder of a non-immigrant visa holder (in most cases) can be denied entry or renewal of their visa if it can be established that the visa holder has formed the intent to permanently reside in the US.

Only a green card grants the holder to have the intent to live permanently in the US. So if you don't have a green card you technically can't say that you have the intent to live or in the US. Non-immigrants can come to the US for an extended period, such as a year or more, they can take up residence in the US, they can buy or rent a home, work, pay taxes and their kids can go to school etc. That's sounds like living in the US to me, but as far as US Immigration is concerned, they are non-resident aliens. Non-resident aliens can stay in the US as long as their visa is valid.

So if your visa allows you to stay for intervals of one year with an indefinite renewal option, as with the O visa, you are not a resident since your application for renewal could be denied, and your right to remain in the US would come to an end even if you had, by that time, lived in the US for 10 years.

In contrast, a permanent resident, a green card holder, has the right to reside in the US for life. However, even this right can be revoked if certain rules are broken.  This is why as immigration attorneys we try to progress a client's immigration status from a non-immigrant visa (non-resident alien) to immigrant status (resident alien), and then ultimately to full citizenship in the shortest possible time.



EB1 Green Card Categories

In order to qualify for an EB1 Green Card you need to be able to satisfy three from a list of ten categories. We’ve provided informative videos on each category for your kind perusal so please review them and get back to us if you feel we can help you. 

EB1 Green Card Checklist – One Time International Award – (i) National Award –
(ii) Invited Membership – (iii) Published Material About You –  (iv) Judging – 
(v) Innovation – (vi) Scholarly Articles – (vii) Exhibition or Showcases – 
(viii) Leading / Critical Role – (ix) High Salary – (x) Commercial Success –
Let's Get Your Case Started Today!


Important Notice: Please note that all videos created by the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram are intended as general information only and not specific legal advice pertaining your case. If you would like specific legal advice on any immigration matter please do not hesitate to contact this law office accordingly. All pictorial images used in these videos and the website in general are licensed stocked images and not portraits, or otherwise, of anyone from the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram, nor of its clients unless otherwise indicated by name. All images are used solely for illustrative purposes only. Copyright 2010-2013 All Rights Reserved.


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