O-1 Visa Explained

O-1 Visa Explained

What is an O-1 Extraordinary Ability visa?

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for individuals with exceptional skill in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have an established record of great performance in the motion picture or television sector that has been recognized nationally or internationally.

The nonimmigrant categorization of O is also known as:

  • Individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (excluding the arts, motion pictures, or television);

  • O-1B: Individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (excluding the arts,

  • O-1B: Individuals with exceptional artistic skill or achievement in the motion picture or television industries;

Individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to help with a specific event or performance; and O-3: Spouses or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

What are the requirements of O-1A – Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics?

You must exhibit "a level of knowledge suggesting that they are one of a small fraction that has risen to the very top of the particular field of endeavor" to be considered qualified for this visa category.

Documentary evidence of such national or international acclaim might be submitted in the form of:

  • Nomination for or receipt of a major internationally recognized award. Examples include but are not limited to Nobel Prize, Olympic medal, Pulitzer; or

  • Three or more of the following:

a. Nationally or internationally recognized awards;

b. Membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievement;

c. Published materials about the applicant in professional or major trade publications;

d. Judgment of others' work;

e. Original scientific or scholarly work of major significance in the field;

f. Evidence of authorship of scholarly work;

g. Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity at an organization with a distinguishing feature;

h. Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity

What are the requirements of O-1A – Extraordinary ability in the arts?

Applicants must exhibit "a high level of performance in the field of arts, as evidenced by a degree of ability and recognition substantially above that commonly seen" in order to be considered for this visa category.

Documentary proof demonstrating such "distinction" might be submitted in the form of:

Nomination or acceptance of a major international or national award or prize. Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, Director's Guild Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award are only a few examples.
At least three of the following:

a. Critical reviews in major newspapers or trade journals;

b. Playing a lead role for an organization with a prestigious reputation;

c. Record of major commercial

d. critically acclaimed successes;

e. Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field; or

f. Has commanded or will command a high salary.

How to Apply for an M1 Visa?

The M1 visa application procedure is quite similar to the F-1 visa application procedure. The following are the actions you must take to apply for an M1 visa:

  • Fill out the I-20 form.

  • Fill out the DS-160 form online.

  • The visa application fee must be paid.

  • Pay the SEVIS I-901 application fee.

  • Prepare for your interview.

  • Create a document file.

  • Attend your scheduled interview.

Get your I-20 Form:

The I-20 form will be given to you once you have been accepted into the vocational school of your choice. You can start the application process with that form.

Submit DS-160 form online:

The first form you must submit online is the DS-160 form. You should fill in any pertinent information about your background, goals in the United States, and program of study. When you submit the form, you will receive a confirmation code and page, which you will need for the interview and document file later on.

Pay the visa application fee:

The M1 visa requires a $160 application fee. This is a non-refundable cost, which means you will not be reimbursed if you do not receive the visa. Aside from this charge, extra fees may apply depending on the Embassy to which you are applying. You may also be required to pay a visa issuance or reciprocity fee, which is established by the US Embassy, if you are from certain countries. Keep all receipts that show you paid all fees.

Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee

Because all international students in the United States are required to register with SEVIS, there is a charge that must be paid. The M1 visa's SEVIS I-901 fee is $200. Pay and retain the receipt since you will need it later.

Schedule your interview

For your visa appointment, you will need to schedule an interview. Try to do this as soon as possible, as US embassies have a heavy workload and may take some time to locate you an appointment. You will receive an interview appointment letter after you arrange the interview, which you must attach to your documents file.

Compile your document file

All relevant forms should be included in your document file. When you go to your visa appointment, you should bring it with you.

Attend your interview

Attend your visa interview at the conclusion. Prepare all of your paperwork and be ready to answer questions during the interview. The M1 visa interview will focus on your reasons for visiting the United States, your financial condition, and your ties to your native country. You will be requested to prove your link to any dependents you bring, such as a spouse or children.

What Can I do With an M1 Visa in the USA?

On an M1 visa, students can pursue their vocational studies full-time and get an associate's degree or another form of degree. They can receive a driver's license, create a bank account, change schools during the first six months of their program, get healthcare, and work under specified conditions.

M1 pupils, on the other hand, are not permitted to:

  • Work full-time outside of the university.

  • Part-time students finish their programs.

  • After six months in their program, they can change or transfer to another institution.

  • Continue their studies in the United States to obtain a Bachelor's degree or another form of degree.

There are also significant distinctions between the F-1 and M1 visas. F-1 visas allow students to pursue academic and degree-related studies, such as a Bachelor's or Master's degree. They also allow students to transfer to any school at any time and to pursue practical training outside of the classroom. Language classes are available to F-1 visa holders, but not to M1 visa holders.

M1 Visa Processing Time

The M1 visa takes only a few days to process. Processing takes place prior to your visa interview. There are times when you will receive a response right after your visa interview, with the interviewer either congratulating you or explaining why you were denied. However, you can anticipate a processing time of at least four weeks in most cases. Do not be concerned if it takes longer than expected. Most likely, the Embassy was overburdened and couldn't answer as quickly.

How Long Can I Stay in the US With an M1 Visa?

The duration of your visa is determined by the length of your vocational study. A visa may be granted for the entire duration of your studies or for a shorter period. Your Form I-20, on the other hand, is only good for a year. This implies you'll have to replace it every year. The M1 visa and Form I-20 can be renewed for up to three years.

You will need to request for an extension if your visa does not cover the entire period of your study. You can do so by submitting Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status, along with your Form I-20 to the USCIS.

Can I Change my Status to Another US Visa?

Furthermore, you have the option of changing your status to another non-immigrant visa. However, you won't be able to move to a F visa, and transferring to an H-1B visa will be tough if you'll be working using abilities you learned as an M1 student.

Many people wish to convert their M1 visa to a Green Card. This can be tough because an employment-based green card requires remarkable ability, marriage in the United States, or a minimum investment of $500,000 in the US economy. As a result, few persons transition from an M1 visa to a Green Card.

Am I Allowed to Work in the United States With an M1 Visa?

The M1 visa permits for certain limited employment. You may only work on campus part-time during the academic year and full-time during the summer. You are only authorized to work for a maximum of 6 months. To be permitted to labor

How Can we Support You?

We will give a variety of foreign student resources and visa services to assist you in learning everything you need to know about studying in the United States, including exploring university options, degree options, and preparing for visa interviews.


I hope this information was useful. Complex immigration processing can be incredibly complicated and stressful for everyone. Before filing this application, you should seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.

Immigrationservice.com can assist you and will be there for you every step of the journey. Please contact us via phone or email.