Extraordinary Abilities for Non-Immigrant Visa


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If an individual possesses extraordinary abilities, then they may qualify for the 0-1 non-immigrant visa. Extraordinary abilities are defined as having above average skills in the arts, athletics, business, education, or sciences.  Additionally entertainment figures who have had significant achievements in fashion, music, or television and motion picture industry can qualify under the 0-1 designation.

This type of visa was designed to allow people who have special abilities, or achievements to bypass the standard visa process and expedite their ability to enter the United States on the basis of continuing to utilize their abilities.  The visa also allows a simple entry for the purpose of acting, modeling, or athletics so that professionals in those areas can come to the United States to compete without any delays in processing their visa applications.

The 0 visa classification breaks down into four distinct subgroups, all as a nonimmigrant visa separated into the following groups:

  • 0-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics 
  • 0-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry;
  • 0-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance; 
  • 0-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

Although somewhat arbitrary, the qualification for an 0 visa has quite a high bar – an individual needs to demonstrate extraordinary ability in his field through sustained national, or international acclaim.  The record of someone’s relevant work in the field, with a sustained durability of their performances, is key to being qualified for such a visa.  In other words if someone is starting their career and is seeking to utilize entry into the United States, this will not qualify them for an 0 type visa.  Rather, the purpose of the visa is to allow individuals who are already established in their careers to further their vocational progress, as well as to enrich US society by bringing their talents to the United States for a limited period of time.  Hence the visa is a non-immigrant visa, on one hand allowing quick and hassle-free access for talented individuals to enter the US, while simultaneously limiting this to a period related to the display or utilization of their extraordinary abilities for the benefit of US society.

The 0 visa is usually granted for a period of up to 3 (three) years of stay, and also allows the visa holder to bring professional assistants and/or family members with them.  The goal of this is for an athlete or entertainment professional to be able to come with the proper support group while they are fulfilling their role in their capacity as a professional with extraordinary abilities.  However, neither they, nor their accompanying individuals, are allowed to work outside of their specific area of employment. If for any reason they need to change their employer, or have any material change in terms or conditions of their employment, any individual with an 0 visa is required to file Form I-129 to get approval for this or risk forfeiture of their visa and other long term issues with the non-immigrant stay.


Additionally there are special rules for professional athletes, due to the specific situation where they can be traded between teams, which constitutes a change of employment.  Since this is a common occurrence, there is a legal stipulation which allows for 30 days for the athlete to join the new organization before filing form I-129, and failure to do so can result in losing employment authorization.

Finally, if an employer terminates the employment and thus leads to the conclusion of the 0 visa, the employer is responsible for return transportation of the individual with extraordinary abilities.  Additionally if an agent filed the petition, they are also liable for the costs associated with the termination of an employment agreement.

Photo by Miguel Bruna


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