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O-1 Category for Physicians

O-1 Category for Physicians

The O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to foreign nationals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or to foreign nationals who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.  Physicians would fall within the primary eligibility criteria as foreign nationals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences.

To qualify for an O-1 visa, a foreign national must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.  Extraordinary ability in the field of science is defined as a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

Before the issuance of an H-1B or L visa, the INA 212(e) requires a J-1 visitor to return to the country in which the alien was a national and resident, or the country where they were a legal permanent resident prior to the beginning of their J-1 status.  However, the O-1 visa does not require that a J-1 physician fulfil the two-year foreign home residency requirement before issuance.  As such, for J-1 foreign national physicians that have reached the top of their field, the O-1 visa offers them an option to remain in the U.S. and continue working.

In order to qualify for an O-1 visa, the foreign national physician must either demonstrate a one-time achievement at the caliber of an Olympic Medal or Nobel prize, or satisfy at least three of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of lesser nationally and internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  • Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by experts in the field;
  • Published materials about the individual in professional or major trade publications, or appearance/published materials about the individual in other major media;
  • Participation, either individually or as part of a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the field (including requests to serve as a reviewer/referee for articles to be published, invitations to serve on discussion and advisory panels, etc.);
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, as published in professional or major trade publications or in other major media;
  • Serving in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation; and/or
  • Commanding a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, as compared to others in the field.

One of the keys to obtaining an O-1 visa for a foreign national physician is narrowly and specifically tailoring the physician’s field of specialty for USCIS adjudication.  For example, defining a physician’s specialty as “cardiology” places them in a large field with numerous other physicians, which makes it difficult to evidence that an applicant has risen to the very top of their field.  However, upon consultation and discussion, Berardi Immigration Law will assist in narrowly tailoring your area of specialty to a smaller field of candidates.

Berardi Immigration Law has drafted numerous successful O-1 visa petitions for foreign national physicians, including those formerly holding J-1 visitor status.  Contact us today for a consultation and review of your credentials to discuss your eligibility!