O1 Visa for Scientists
- An O-1 Visa Scientist can live and work in the US for upto 3 years, and renew indefinitely.
- They can go to school, hold concurrent O-1 Visas, and pursue a green card.
- The O-1 Visa holder can travel freely.
- Their spouse and minor chilren (under 21) can come to the US to live and go to school on the O-3 Visa, but not work.
CRITERIA FOR O1 VISA SCIENTISTS
A Scientist must show that they meet at least (3) of (8) criteria AND have a job offer. However, most Scientists meet the same 3-4 criteria when applying. It's important to remember that the criteria are a checklist and not a "weighted" system. Once you meet three, you're in. A person who meets 3 criteria gets the same visa as a person who meets 8 criteria. Further, meeting a criteria is a pass/fail endeavor, and there is no credit given for partially fulfilling one.
Let's look at the criteria that a Scientist usually applies under. The first two criteria, Authorship and Organizations, are met by most scientists. The criteria below that, Judge, Salary, and Associations are the other criteria that Scientists usually apply under, although rarely for all of them in the same application. Beneath that is the final criteria that is possible, but very rarely applied for by scientists: Awards, Contribution, and News Media.
In order to meet this criteria a Scientist needs to have published scholarly articles in a Professional Journal. These articles may be part of their PhD or Masters program. Conference papers may be counted, but they are not viewed as well as journal articles. Authored books or chapters of books will meet this criteria.
In order to meet this criteria a Scientist needs to have worked as an important member of a successful company. The bar for a successful company is very low, and mainly it is meant to avoid fraud employment through relatives. It is very likely that if you are employed as a Scientist you are both working at a successful company AND were an important part of that company. An unimportant member of a company would be considered a secretary or assistant. You will need your previous company's cooperation in fulfilling this criteria. If you are already working for the company that is sponsoring you, they can act as your "prior employer".
In order to meet this criteria a Scientist needs to have acted in the capacity of a Judge. This can be formally through a competition, or in reviewing others work. Many scientists volunteer to be a peer-reviewer for a Journal in order to meet this criteria.The average number of peer reviews done by applicants we submit for is two.
This criteria asks if you are making, will you make, or have made a high salary for your job compared to others in your field of work. The following chart is instructive on what is considered a "high salary" for someone working in the US. This list is not exhaustive.
Job Title Annual Hourly Animal Scientist $124760 $59.98 Anthropologists and Archeologist $93650 $45.03 Astronomer $162630 $78.19 Atmospheric and Space Scientist $128670 $61.86 Biochemists and Biophysicist $149130 $71.70 Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers $148210 $71.26 Biological Scientist $115260 $55.42 Chemist $126220 $60.68 Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologist $113640 $54.63 Computer Scientist $189780 $91.24 Conservation Scientist $92400 $44.42 Data Scientist $158060 $75.99 Economist $170780 $82.11 Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Healt $114990 $55.28 Epidemiologist $112360 $54.02 Food Scientists and Technologist $107810 $51.83 Forester $85750 $41.23 Geographer $104670 $50.32 Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographer $NA $NA Gerontologist $159680 $76.77 Historian $101640 $48.87 Hydrologist $117190 $56.34 Industrial-Organizational Psychologist $145480 $69.94 Materials Scientist $143960 $69.21 Mathematician $162060 $77.92 Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologist $148210 $71.25 Microbiologist $125000 $60.1 Physicist $184650 $88.77 Political Scientist $153960 $74.02 Sociologist $127890 $61.48 Soil and Plant Scientist $100440 $48.29 Statistician $146770 $70.56 Survey Researcher $95070 $45.71 Urban and Regional Planner $99560 $47.86 Zoologists and Wildlife Biologist $96720 $46.5
In order to meet this criteria a Scientist needs to be a part of a professional association, club, or organization which only allows in members after they are judged on a criteria which includes merit/achievement. It cannot simply be an objective test, for example, an alumni club which lets in members who graduated would be objective. Nor can membership be based solely on your accredition or certification. The membership criteria must be subjective, which would include being interviewed, or having your resume or work accomplishments evaluated.
The award needs to be nationally or internationally recognized, and not related to school. Scholarships for education or PhD programs, and the Fulbright Scholarship, do not count. Grants or Money Awards for research do count. It can be awarded to you or your employer for work you contributed towards.
While very rare for Scientists, this O1 Criteria is met when you are in the news specifically for work related achievements. It needs to be a national news source, not local, but it can be online, and it can be in your niche field of science. It can be a US or Foreign media source. Your name must be in the article, and not only as a subnote. An example of ideal evidence would be an interview.
This Criteria is very hard to prove because the evidence requirements are so exacting. It's supposed to be granted to people who have a new development in Science or Business, or whose team has a new development. However, proving that development has become nearly impossible. This criteria is rarely submitted for. USCIS wants evidence that the contribution is unique, valuable, and major. Additionally, they want detailed testimonials from industry professionals who have actually used this contribution in their work. The difficulty of obtaining evidence USCIS will be satisfied with, as well as their tendency to view this criteria subjectively and overrule evidence given, is what makes it so hard to achieve.
SUMMARY FOR O1 VISA SCIENTISTS
Scientists are eligible for an O-1A Visa in the Field of Science. O-1A Visas are a sub-type of O-1 Visa, available to those seeking to work in the field of Athletics, Business, Education or Science. An O1 Visa for Scientists is categorized in the Field of Science. The other type of O-1 is an O-1B Visa, which is for artists. The criteria for an O-1A Visa is different from that of an O-1B, although they do have some similarities. It is important not to rely on generalized "O-1 Criteria" from internet sources as they are likely regarding O-1B visas, which do not apply to Scientists.
All foreign Scientists and Researchers are potentially eligible for O-1 Visas. Most applicants are transferring from a OPT, J-1, or an H-1B Visa to an O1 Visa. Sometimes they are recruited to a company from overseas. To achieve an O-1 Visa a Scientist must meet 3 of 8 criteria listed below AND have a job offer from a US Employer. The O-1 Visa allows a holder to work and live in the US for three years, and can be renewed indefinitely. Due to the extensive procedural requirements of the O-1 Visa, using an experienced O-1 Visa Attorney is highly recommended.
There is a Green Card "version" of an O-1 Visa called an EB-1 Visa, which you can apply for at a later time. The EB-1 lasts for 10 years and leads to citizenship. Our lawyers handle both O1 visas and EB1 greencards.
Common paths to the O-1 Visa include F-1 OPT to O-1 Visa, J-1 to O-1 Visa, H-1B to O-1 Visa, TN-1 to O-1 Visa, TN-2 to O-1 Visa, E3-1 to O-1 Visa, and someone not currently in the US to O-1 Visa.
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