O-1 Visas: For Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Extraordinary Achievement in Motion Pictures/Television


Attorneys Sherman Kaplan and Heidy Trombi are leaders in obtaining O-1 visa status for members of the entertainment industry. If you or your employee is a foreign national at the top of the entertainment industry who wishes to live and work in the U.S., let us help you today.

About the O-1 Visa

The O-1 visa is an excellent nonimmigrant visa option for key players in the entertainment industry who wish to temporarily live and work in the U.S. While actors, musicians, cinematographers and directors are traditional examples of individuals who qualify for this visa, the O-1 is also applicable to non-traditional artists such as choreographers, conductors, makeup artists and stage technicians. The O-1 visa also covers professionals with exceptional achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics.


O-1 visa applicants in the motion picture or television industries must provide proof of their extraordinary achievement to qualify. Extraordinary achievement requires a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered in these industries.

To demonstrate this extraordinary ability or achievement, applicants must submit documentation of receipt or nomination of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as an Oscar, a Director’s Guild Award, an Emmy, Grammy, or Juno, or evidence of at least three of the following:

  • The individual has performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation;
  • The individual has achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary;
  • The individual has performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • The individual has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements;
  • The individual has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged;
  • The individual has a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Petitions for O-1 visas may only be approved based on a showing of actual work, not prospective work, in the U.S. Contracts, Deal Memos, Itineraries or other similar evidence must be provided to demonstrate the work to be performed.