Nonimmigrant or probationary pathways for entrepreneurship employment in the United States (2023)

Temporary paths offer the opportunity to incorporate and operate a business in the United States for a specified period of time. They do not provide legal permanent residency, although some individuals who come to the United States on nonimmigrant visas or probation subsequently progress to permanent residency routes and eventuallyUS citizenship. Some of these routes also allow you to bring your spouse and children under the age of 21 to the United States.

Under theInternational Business Rule, DHS may use its probation powers to grant sanctioned residency on a case-by-case basis to non-Civic entrepreneurs who demonstrate that their residency in the United States would provide significant public benefit through their business venture and that they deserve a favorable one exercise of discretion. (This length of authorized stay is technically known as “probation.”)

You must have a substantial interest (which USCIS deems at least 10% at the time of the initial application decision) in the start-up company and play a central and active role in its operations.

The startup must be a US business entity lawfully doing business in the United States and incorporated within the five years immediately preceding the application for parole. It must also have significant potential for rapid growth and job creation.

What type and amount of funding is required to demonstrate that the start-up has significant potential for rapid growth and job creation?

You must be able to show that the company has received the following funding in the past 18 months:

While you are not restricted from personally investing in the start-up company or otherwise securing additional funding, only qualifying investments from a qualifying investor will count towards the minimum investment amount.

A qualifying investment is the purchase of equity, convertible debt or other securities convertible into equity in a start-up company that is commonly used to fund transactions within that company's industry.

For the qualifying amounts that are adjusted for inflation every three years, see updated alerts onInternational Entrepreneur Wordbook page.

The spouse and children of a parole applicant may also apply for parole by submitting Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

Spouses of noncitizens may apply for an employment permit by filing after being paroled to the United States under the International Entrepreneur RuleForm I-765, Employment Permit Application.

What is the maximum time I can stay in the United States under the International Entrepreneur Rule?

You can initially be granted a stay of up to two and a half years. If re-parole is approved, you may be granted up to an additional two and a half years, with a maximum of five years.

Yes, as long as you and the start-up meet all of the criteria for consideration. If you are an applicant residing outside the United States seeking initial authorized residency under the International Entrepreneur Rule, you will be required to submit biometric information. We'll send you a notification explaining where to submit biometrics after we coordinate with the Department of State (DOS) or the nearest USCIS international field office.

You may apply for immigrant or nonimmigrant status at any time during the period of authorized stay, if you are eligible. However, since probation is not admission, you are generally not eligible for accommodation or change of status and would have to leave the United States to apply for admission as an immigrant or nonimmigrant.

Can I apply if I have nonimmigrant status e.g. E.g. B-1 or F-1? Can I apply if I have exceeded the duration of my nonimmigrant status but believe I meet the other criteria?

If you are currently in the United States as a nonimmigrant, you can apply, but you would have to leave the United States for parole if approved. If you do not currently have nonimmigrant status, you can also apply, but you would need to leave the United States for parole if approved. However, failure to maintain your nonimmigrant status may result in immigration consequences including but not limited to deportation, inadmissibility and exclusion from adjusting status in some categories.

B-1 Temporary Business Visitor

You may be entitled to aB-1 Viewif you are traveling to the United States on business to secure financing, office space, negotiate a contract, or attend certain business meetings in connection with and prior to the opening and operation of a new business in that country.

What is a short period of time?

The B-1 nonimmigrant visa category is not for longer, long-term activities, but for a specific and specific activity. The maximum duration of initial admission to the United States as a B-1 nonimmigrant is normally six months, but the actual duration of admission will be for a period of time that is fair and reasonable to fulfill the purpose of the visit (and therefore may be less than six months).

In no case may the initial registration as a B-1 last longer than one year. B-1 stay extensions may be available to fulfill the purpose of your visit to this country. With limited exceptions for certain missionaries, extensions of residency may not be granted at intervals of more than six months. You must be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover the cost of travel and your stay in the United States. You must also prove that you retain your residence abroad, which you do not intend to give up, and that you have other ties that will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit.

What business activities am I allowed to engage in?

You may engage in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including but not limited to:

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  • attend meetings;
  • consulting with employees;
  • participation in negotiations;
  • Taking orders for goods manufactured and located outside the United States; or
  • Attending conferences and researching opportunities to open a business in the United States (e.g. finding or leasing office space).

As a B-1 visitor, you may not engage in activities or provide services that would constitute local employment for employment in the United States; H. work for a US employer while you are in that country. In addition, you may not, for example, “hang up a handkerchief”, i. H. Open and operate your own business in the United States while at B-1 status

If you are coming to secure funding for a new business, you cannot remain in the United States to actually operate or run the business after funding is secured, unless you change your status to another Classification permitting employment in the United States.

Is salary allowed?

Conducting business activities on behalf of a foreign employer is permissible, but no salary may be from a US source. However, in some cases, you may be able to receive reimbursement from a US source for reasonable incidental expenses incurred while you are in the United States.

Note: There is no guarantee that the US Department of State (DOS) will issue you a B-1 visa or that DHS will grant you B-1 status even if you provide the evidence described above. A consular or DHS officer will review all relevant facts before deciding whether to issue a visa or grant status. Therefore, it is important to fully explain the purpose of your visit or stay and the activities you will be undertaking so that DHS (or DOS) can make an informed decision about your application.

E-2 Contract Investors

You may be entitled to oneE-2 Viewwhen investing a significant amount of money in a new or existing US business. You must be a national of a country that has a trade and shipping treaty with the United States, a country included in another international treaty authorizing E-2 classification, or a country recognized by Congress as eligible for participation in the E-2 nonimmigrant visa program. A list of these countries can be found atMinistry of Foreign Affairs website.

Note: If your contracting nationality was obtained through a financial investment, you must demonstrate that you have been a continuous resident of the contracting state for three years prior to the date of filing.

What are the requirements for investing in a new or existing business?

USCIS defines an E-2 investment as the placement of capital, including monies and other assets, by the investor in a commercial sense with the goal of making a profit. Your investment can be for the purpose of starting a new business or buying an existing business. In both scenarios, you need to show that the capital you are investing is significant.

A bona fide company is a bona fide, active commercial or entrepreneurial enterprise that produces services or goods for profit. The company cannot be an idle investment held for potential appreciation as z intends to direct the company. Some of the evidence you may submit to show that your business is in good faith includes, but is not limited to:

  • Notice of Assignment of an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS);
  • Tax returns;
  • annual accounts;
  • Quarterly payroll reports or payslips (i.e. W-2s and W-3s);
  • corporate organizational chart;
  • business licenses;
  • bank statements, utility bills and advertisements/telephone directory listings;
  • Contracts or customer/supplier agreements;
  • Escrow documents; or
  • lease agreement.

A small business is one that generates no more than enough income to support you and your family at a minimum or to make a significant economic contribution. Some of the evidence you can submit to show that your business is non-marginal includes, but is not limited to:

  • Detailed business plan or summary showing that your business will provide more than minimal subsistence for you and your family or make a significant economic contribution, along with any evidence you believe supports the statements in your business plan ;
  • US or foreign individual tax returns;
  • annual accounts; or
  • Payslips (i.e. W-2s and W-3s).

What is required to prove that I am invested or actively participating in an investment?

You must prove that the capital you have invested is irrevocably tied to the company and is subject to partial or total loss if the company fails. The funds you invest must also be your own. Additionally, the funds invested must be significant relative to the total cost of either buying an established business or starting the type of business you are considering. Some of the evidence you can provide to show that your investment is substantial and irrevocably tied to the company includes, but is not limited to:

  • Canceled money orders and/or checks;
  • Corresponding personal and/or business bank statements;
  • Itemized list of goods and materials purchased for incorporation;
  • Relevant financial accounting documentation;
  • lease agreement;
  • Term Sheet, Letter of Intent or Letter of Intent;
  • Purchase contract;
  • Escrow-Dokumente;
  • loan and/or mortgage agreements;
  • capitalization table;
  • Valuation analysis of business assets;
  • Purchase agreement for business assets;
  • stock valuation analysis; or
  • Share purchase agreement accompanied by:
    • meeting minutes;
    • stock ledger;
    • share certificate; And
    • Corresponding forms of payment for shares.

What do I have to prove regarding the source of the funds?

You must show a clear and legitimate path as to the source of the capital you will be investing. You must also prove that the funds you have invested were not obtained through criminal means. Some of the evidence you can provide to prove the origin of your funds includes, but is not limited to:

  • bank transfers, money orders and/or canceled checks;
  • Foreign and domestic bank statements;
  • Foreign tax returns;
  • wage documents;
  • ownership records; or
  • Loan and/or Mortgage Agreements.

What do I have to prove my role will be?

You must demonstrate that you will develop and direct the investment entity by demonstrating that you own at least 50% of the entity or have operational control through a managerial position or other corporate vehicle. Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate your ability to develop and manage your business venture includes, but is not limited to:

  • A detailed list of all owners and their ownership interests. If you are one of two 50% owners or own less than 50% of the business, the documentation should be signed by all owners to show that you have a controlling interest;
  • capitalization table;
  • Stock Purchase Agreement, Term Sheet, Letter of Intent or Letter of Intent;
  • Statute;
  • meeting minutes;
  • share certificates or share register;
  • Articles of Association/Organization;
  • Annual Report or U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-K;
  • partnership agreement; or
  • Franchisevertrag.

F-1 Optional Internship (OPT)

You may qualify for thisOptional Internship (OPT)if you are an F-1 student in the United States and want to start a business directly related to your major field of study. However, students in English language training programs are not eligible for OPT. Additionally, you may not qualify for an OPT Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) Extension if the company is not already incorporated and will be your employer.

Can I start and own my own business?

You can start, own and work for your own business during your first OPT phase. However, to qualify for a STEM OPT renewal, the startup company must be an employer in good standing with E-Verify, sign a training plan for you, and have the resources to comply with the proposed training plan. Although this does not prevent you from having an interest in the start-up, you must not be your own employer and must not sign the training plan certificate on your own behalf. DHS has additional information aboutSTEM OPT ExtensionsAnDHS study in the States.

What kind of work am I allowed to do for the company?

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While you are at F-1 OPT, your work must be directly related to your major field of study.

Can I start a business and work while still in school?

As an F-1 student, you may be eligible for up to a total of 12 months of full-time internships at any level of education (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate). If you are eligible to participate in Pre-Completion OPT, you may not work more than 20 hours per week during school hours, but may work full-time during your annual leave and other times when school is not in session. If you choose to have an OPT before you graduate, your eligible period for OPT after you graduate will be reduced. If you have already received a year of part-time OPT prior to graduation, the total time of full-time OPT still available would be reduced by six months, 50% of the previously approved year at the same educational level. In this scenario, you would only be entitled to six months full-time remaining after completing the OPT. If you have already received one year of full-time OPT prior to graduation, the total time of full-time OPT still available would be reduced by one year, 100% of the previously approved year at the same educational level. In this scenario, you would not be eligible for a post-closing OPT period.

Students who graduate with a qualifying STEM degree and are currently in an approved OPT follow-up period based on a designated STEM degree may apply for a 24-month STEM extension of their OPT after graduation.

How do I apply for F-1 OPT?

Once you receive a recommendation from your Designated School Official (DSO) to pursue OPT, you must apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You can apply for the Pre-Completion OPT up to 90 days before the end of a full academic year if you only start OPT after completing a full academic year. For post-completion OPT, you must apply within 30 days after your DSO has entered the recommendation into your SEVIS record. Additionally, you can apply up to 90 days before your program end date, but no later than 60 days after your program end date.

How do I get a 24 month MINT extension of my Post-Completion OPT?

If you have completed a qualifying STEM degree and are currently in an approved post-graduation OPT period based on a designated STEM degree, you may be eligible to apply for a 24-month post-graduation STEM extension to your OPT. For a STEM degree to qualify, it must appear on theDHS MINT Studiengangsliste (21.01.2022) (PDF). If you wish to apply for a STEM renewal, you must apply for the renewal with USCIS before your current OPT work permit expires, but no more than 90 days before your OPT expires. Additionally, you must apply within 60 days of your DSO entering the recommendation into your SEVIS record.

H-1B Special Occupation

You may be eligible for a placementH-1B nonimmigrantsif you plan to work in the United States in a job that typically requires a bachelor's degree or higher in a related field of study (e.g., engineering, science, or mathematics), and you have at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent in a have field related to the position.

The applicant employer (the “Applicant”) may be a company in which you (the “Beneficiary”) have an ownership interest.

Listed below are some key requirements you must meet in order to qualify for H-1B special trades classification. For each requirement, we've included supporting evidence you can submit to complete the requirement, as well as other tips to help you prepare your petition.

Requirement 1 – You must have an employer-employee relationship with the applicant US employer

In general, an H-1B applicant can produce a valid certificateEmployment relationship (PDF, 379.71 KB)with respect to an H-1B beneficiary, if the applicant will stop, pay, fire, supervise or otherwise control the beneficiary's work. The sole or majority owner of the applicant company or organization may be able to establish a valid employer-employee relationship if the facts show that the applicant company meets at least one of the factors listed above.

How do I prove an employer-employee relationship if I own my own business?

If you own your business, you may be able to show that aEmployment relationship (PDF, 379.71 KB)exists when the company applying for your H-1B classification meets at least one of the factors “hiring, paying, firing, supervising, or otherwise controlling the work of.” H-1B applicants must submit a Labor Conditions Application (LCA). and a copy of any written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary, or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement if there is no written contract. Depending on the content of this documentation, it can establish the employer-employee relationship.

Requirement 2 – Your job can qualify as a specialty job if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • A bachelor's degree or higher, or equivalent, is usually the minimum requirement for the position;
  • A degree requirement is common in the industry for this position, or the job is so complex or unique that it can only be performed by someone with at least a bachelor's degree in a field related to the position.
  • The employer usually requires a degree or equivalent for the job; or
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties usually entails obtaining a baccalaureate degree or higher.

Note that "usually," "usual," and "usually" are interpreted based on their plaintext dictionary definitions. They are not interpreted to mean "always".

How do I prove that my position at my company is one that would normally require a degree in a related field?

USCISoften refers to theCareer Prospects Handbook(OOH) by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to determine whether a degree is required for specific jobs. If the OOH does not indicate that a degree in a related field is typically the minimum requirement for the position, you can submit sample evidence to demonstrate that the position typically requires such a degree:

  • Copies of previous job postings, if relevant, reflecting the minimum requirements for the job, showing that your company typically requires a degree for the job, and confirming that your job is so specialized or complex that it can only be filled by someone with a degree, including a detailed description of the petitioner's company/products/services and the duties of the position;
  • A detailed description of the petitioner's company/products/services and the responsibilities of the position, together with written testimonials from experts confirming that your position is so specialized or complex that only someone with a degree (in a related field ) can be exercised;
  • Job offers, letters and/or affidavits from other employers reflecting the minimum requirements for the position and showing that degree requirements are common in the industry in parallel positions at similar organizations; or
  • Written testimonials from experts in the field explaining how the degree relates to the role you will be taking on.

Requirement 3 – Your job must be in a specialty related to your field of study

How do I prove that my degree is related to the medical profession?

Some of the evidence you can submit to show your degree is related to your position includes:

  • A detailed explanation of the specific responsibilities of the position, product or service your company is offering or the complexity of the role you will be taking on and how your degree is related to the role;
  • Written testimonials from experts in the field explaining how the degree relates to the role you will be taking on;
  • Resources describing the fields of study usually associated with the profession; or
  • Evidence that similar companies in your industry require similar degrees for similar positions.

Can I qualify without a bachelor's degree?

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If your position qualifies and you do not have at least a bachelor's degree in a field related to your position, you may qualify by:

  • Possess an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification authorizing you to fully practice the specialty and to practice immediately in that specialty in the state of intended employment; or
  • Education, specialized training, or experience of increasing responsibility equivalent to the completion of a US bachelor's or higher degree in the field, and recognition of expertise in the field through incremental positions of responsibility directly related to the field. In general, three years of work experience or education in the field is equivalent to one year of college.

Note: Submit proof of equivalency for all foreign degrees. If work experience is recognized, please submit an equivalence assessment by a university official. If the equivalence assessment is not from the registrar, submit a statement from the school's registrar to demonstrate that the applicable assessing officer is authorized to award college-level credit on behalf of their institution.

Requirement 4 – An H-1B visa number must be available at the time of filing the application, unless the application is exempt from numerical restrictions.

The H-1B nonimmigrant classification has an annual limit or cap of 65,000 visas or first status grants per fiscal year. The first 20,000 applications submitted on behalf of beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from a US university are exempt from the cap. In addition, H-1B employees who are applied for or employed by a university (or its affiliated or affiliated nonprofits), nonprofit research organization, or government research organization are not subject to this numerical limit.

Caps are often used up very quickly, so it's important to plan ahead if you intend to submit an H-1B petition that is subject to annual H-1B number assignments. H-1B cap subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, may not be submitted unless based on a valid, selected enrollment for the beneficiary (unless the Registration obligation is suspended). Registration typically begins in early March for a start date in the next fiscal year. H-1B petitions can be submitted up to six months before the start date.

The USCIS website contains several helpful resources, including theH-1B-Cap-Saison, DieH-1B Electronic Registration Process, AndH-1B PetitionsIn general.

L-1A Intra-corporate Transferee

You may be entitled to oneL-1 Visa for “Intracompany Transferees”if you are an officer or manager who has worked for a qualifying organization (including a subsidiary, parent company, subsidiary or branch of your foreign employer) for at least one year within the three years prior to submitting your L-1 application (or in some cases your entry into the United States). To qualify for the L-1A classification, the organization must seek to transfer you to the United States to work as an executive or manager.

Your overseas employer may transfer you to a US entity that is already in business, or you may be transferred to establish a new office. This section only deals with new offices.

A new office is an organization that has been operating in the United States for less than a year through a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate. Because the term organization is not separately defined in the definition of a new office, it can be either a US or foreign corporation or other legal entity. The required limitation of less than one year applies to the new branches, which correspond to one of the four distinct legal entity types – parent company, branch office, subsidiary or affiliate. The regulations define a branch as "an operational division or office of the same organization located elsewhere" and clarify that the organization is not limited to just one location in the United States. Among the factors to be considered are the size of the investment, planned staff structure, product or service to be provided, physical premises and viability of the foreign operation.

For more information on L-1A corporate transferees and the differences between the requirements for established offices and new offices, seeL-1A Intra-corporate Transfereeand theUSCIS Policy Manual.

Requirement 1 – The US company must have a qualified relationship with your foreign employer.

The US company must have a corporate relationship with the foreign company that employed you as a manager or officer. This means that the U.S. entity must be a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch of the foreign entity, and that both the U.S. entity and the foreign entity must continue to have common ownership and control. However, you may still qualify even if the specific foreign branch where you worked the required year abroad is no longer operating, provided that at least one other qualifying foreign branch remains in existence throughout your stay in the United States as an L-1A nonimmigrant executive or manager.

How do I prove that the new office in the United States has a qualifying relationship with my foreign employer?

Some of the evidence you can provide to demonstrate that the new US business has the required qualifying relationship with your foreign employer includes, but is not limited to:

  • Certificates of incorporation or similar organizational documents demonstrating the joint ownership of the US and foreign companies;
  • Articles of incorporation or similar operating documents demonstrating the common ownership of US and foreign companies;
  • organizational charts illustrating the qualifying relationship between the US and foreign companies;
  • Records of corporate registrations, minutes of meetings, certificates of ownership, or ownership books demonstrating joint ownership and control of US and foreign companies;
  • Bank statements or remittance documents evidencing capital contributions in exchange for property;
  • Annual reports with a description of the company structure;
  • corporate filings in the United States or abroad describing the corporate relationship; And
  • Any other evidence demonstrating ownership and control of US and foreign companies (i.e. stock purchase agreements, voting rights agreements, capitalization tables, term sheets).


1) If the US company is an affiliate, provide a detailed list of the foreign and US company owners, including percentage ownership, along with supporting documentation. An affiliated company is defined as one of two subsidiaries owned and controlled by the same parent company or person or group of people, each owning and controlling the same interest or interest in each company.

2) If the US entity is a parent or subsidiary, provide a detailed list of owners, including percentage ownership, along with supporting documentation. A subsidiary is a company whose parent company:

  • Directly or indirectly owns more than half of the company and controls the company;
  • directly or indirectly owns half of the company and controls the company;
  • Directly or indirectly owns 50% of a 50:50 joint venture and has equal control and veto power over the company; or
  • Owns less than half of the company, directly or indirectly, but actually controls the company.

3) A branch is an operational department or office of the same organization housed in a different location. Evidence that the U.S. employer is a branch may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • A state or territory business license showing that the foreign company is authorized to conduct business activities in the United States;
  • Copies of a foreign corporation's U.S. income tax return (IRS Form 1120-F);
  • Copies of the employer's quarterly federal tax return (IRS Form 941) that lists the branch as the employer;
  • Copies of payroll and tax returns (IRS Form W-2) naming branch office as employer; or
  • Copies of a lease agreement for office space in the United States.

If the applicant is attempting to transfer the beneficiary from a foreign branch, the application should include comparable evidence to demonstrate that the foreign employer is a branch of a qualifying entity.

How do I prove that I have worked abroad for the required time?

Some of the evidence you can submit to document your employment abroad for any of the last three years includes, but is not limited to:

  • payslips;
  • payslips; And
  • Tax returns showing gainful employment.

How do I prove that my overseas employment was in a qualifying capacity?

Some of the evidence you can provide to show that your employment abroad was in a managerial or managerial capacity includes:

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  • organizational charts showing your position and any employees supporting your position;
  • performance appraisals or reviews; And
  • Job descriptions for your position and the positions reporting above and/or below you, if applicable.

Requirement 2 - Adequate physical space must be secured for a new office.

While the amount of physical space may vary depending on the type of business, adequate physical space to conduct the proposed business must be secured through rent, purchase, or other means.

How do I prove that the new US office has enough space to do business?

If you are submitting for the purpose of opening a new office in the United States, some of the evidence you may submit to show that the new US office has adequate space to conduct business may include:

  • Signed rental agreement;
  • Mortgages or other proof of real estate purchase; And
  • Business plan, marketing materials, or other description of the company that connects the company's activity to the area purchased.


1) When running for new office, provide a copy of a business plan or summary showing the size of the US investment and your ability to do business in the United States.

2) In addition to providing evidence that you have secured a physical location, explain how that location is sufficient for your business.

Requirement 3 – A new office must be active and operational within one year of your admission as an L-1 in the United States in order to extend your stay.

The L-1 “new office” visa is designed to facilitate a “ramp-up” period for a foreign entity's new US office. This period is limited to one year. After this time, an L-1 visa extension is possible if the new office meets this requirement to be active and work. What makes an office active and operational depends on the nature of the business. Typically, this includes factors such as, but not limited to, hiring additional staff, fulfilling contract work, a source of income, or holding inventory, if applicable.

Requirement 4 – After one year, if you are applying for an extension of residency in the L-1A classification, the new office must support a managerial or managerial position.

During the first-year ramp-up, a manager or executive may, for practical reasons, be required to perform many “hands-on” tasks that go beyond the actual management or leadership role. After the first year, however, you must focus primarily on managerial or leadership roles and demonstrate that the company is now supporting a managerial or leadership position in order to receive an L-1 visa extension.

After a year, how do I show that the new office is fully operational and supports my role as a manager or leader?

Some of the evidence you can submit to show that the new office is fully operational includes, but is not limited to:

  • Purchase orders, contracts or other evidence of commercial activity;
  • organizational charts identifying your position and current employees who support your position;
  • Quarterly salary reports with current and hired employees;
  • bank statements;
  • Financial reporting documents showing monthly income; And
  • Job descriptions detailing the roles and responsibilities of all current employees, or other evidence clearly showing how your managerial or managerial position is exempt from performing primarily nonqualifying duties.

O-1 Extraordinary ability

You may be eligible for a placementO-1A Nonimmigrantsif you have exceptional ability in science, education, business, or athletics, as demonstrated by continued national or international recognition and recognition, and you come to the United States to work in your specialty, which may include work for a company you own. Exceptional ability means you have a level of expertise that indicates you are among the small percentage of people who have made it to the top in your field.

Requirement 1 - A US employer or US agent must file the petition.

USCIS regulations provide that the applicant can be either a US employer or a US agent (who can be the actual employer of the beneficiary, the agent of both the employer and the beneficiary; or an individual or entity that authorized by the employer to act for or on behalf of the employer as his representative). While O-1 beneficiaries cannot file a self-application, a separate legal entity that you own (such as a corporation or limited liability company) can file an application on your behalf.

Requirement 2 - You must be able to demonstrate exceptional ability in your field.

The O-1A classification for individuals in science, business, education, or athletics is for individuals who are a small percentage at the top of their field and come to the United States to pursue further work in that area of ​​expertise.

To establish eligibility for O-1A nonimmigrant classification, you must provide initial evidence that you have either received a significant, internationally recognized award, or provide initial evidence that meets at least three of the eight Evidence Criteria.

The USCIS Policy Manual includesdetailed guidance on O-1A eligibility assessment, including onediagram(reproduced below), which describes relevant examples of evidence that can satisfy each of the alternative O-1A evidence requirements and considerations relevant to the assessment of such evidence.

Meeting the O-1A Evidence Requirements
O-1A Evidence Criterion:Relevant examples and considerations
Documentation of receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the beneficiary's field.


  • Awards from well-known national institutions and renowned professional associations.
  • Certain doctoral awards and Ph.D. grants.
  • Certain awards for presentations at nationally or internationally recognized conferences.


While many academic awards lack the level of recognition required, there are some Ph.D. B. Scholarships or dissertation prizes that are nationally or internationally recognized as awards of excellence, enabling them to meet the requirements of this criterion. Relevant considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • The criteria used to award the awards or prizes;
  • The national or international significance of the awards or prizes in the field;
  • The number of awardees or prizewinners; And
  • Restrictions on Eligible Competitors.

For example, an award that is only available to individuals within a single locality, employer, or school may enjoy little national or international recognition, while an award is open to members of a well-known national institution (including an R1 or R2 doctoral university) or professionals Organization can be recognized nationally.

Evidence of membership of the beneficiary(ies) in associations in the targeted field that require their members to demonstrate excellence, assessed by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields.


  • Membership in certain professional associations.
  • Grants with specific organizations or institutions.


The applicant must demonstrate that membership in the association requires excellence in the field for which classification is sought, as judged by recognized national or international experts.

Associations can have multiple membership levels. The petitioner must demonstrate that, in order to attain the membership level granted to the beneficiary, the beneficiary has been assessed by recognized national or international experts as having outstanding achievements in the field for which the classification is sought.

As a possible example, membership in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at the IEEE Fellow level requires, in part, that a nominee "have made achievements that have made an important contribution to the advancement or application of engineering, science, and technology the realization of significant value to society,” and nominations will be judged by an IEEE Expert Council and a committee of current IEEE Fellows. As another possible example, membership as a Fellow in the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) is based on recognition of a nominee's "significant, sustained contributions" to the field of artificial intelligence and is judged by a panel of current AAAI Fellows.

Relevant factors that may lead a public official to conclude that the individual's membership in one or more associations was not based on excellence in that area include, but are not limited to, cases where the individual's membership was based on:

  • Exclusively on the level of education or years of experience in a specific field;
  • By paying a fee or by subscribing to association publications; or
  • If there is a mandatory or other requirement for employment in certain occupations, e.g. B. Membership in a trade union.
Published material in professional or major professional publications or major media about the Beneficiary that relates to the Beneficiary's work in the area for which classification is sought. This evidence must include the title, date and author of the published material and any translations required.


  • Specialist publications or major print publications (newspaper articles, articles in popular and scientific journals, books, textbooks or similar publications) about the grantee and the grantee's work.
  • Specialist publications or major online publications about the beneficiary and the work of the beneficiary.
  • Transcript of professional or important audio or video coverage of the beneficiary and the beneficiary's work.


Published material that contains only a brief citation or cursory reference to the beneficiary's work is not "about" the beneficiary and does not refer to the beneficiary's work in the field as required by this criterion. However, the beneficiary and the beneficiary's work need not be the sole subject of the material; Published material that covers a broader topic but contains a substantial discussion of the beneficiary's work in the field and mentions the beneficiary in relation to the work may be considered material "about" the beneficiary in relation to its work.

In addition, officers may consider material that focuses solely or primarily on work or research being conducted by a team of which the beneficiary is a member, provided that the material mentions the beneficiary in connection with the work or other evidence in the records that of the beneficiary document significant role in the work or research.

When assessing whether a submitted publication is a journal, major journal or major medium, relevant factors are the intended audience (for journals and major journals) and relative circulation, readership or viewership (for major journals and other important media).

Evidence of the beneficiary's participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or a related subject for which classification is sought.


  • Reviewers of abstracts or papers submitted for presentation at scientific conferences in the respective field.
  • Reviewer for scientific publications.
  • Member of doctoral committees.
  • Reviewer for state research funding programs.


The petitioner must demonstrate that the beneficiary was not only invited to evaluate the work of others, but that the beneficiary actually participated in evaluating the work of others in the same or related field.

For example, a petitioner could document a beneficiary's peer review work by providing the beneficiary with a copy of a request from a journal to conduct the review, along with evidence confirming that the beneficiary completed the review.

Evidence of the beneficiary's original scientific, scientific or business contributions of major importance in the field.


  • Published materials about the significance of the beneficiary's original work.
  • Certificates, letters and affidavits about the beneficiary's original work.
  • Documentation that the beneficiary's original work has been cited at a level indicative of great importance in the field.
  • Patents or licenses derived from the beneficiary's work, or evidence of commercial exploitation of the beneficiary's work.


Analysis under this criterion focuses on whether the beneficiary's original work represents a large, significant contribution to the field.

Evidence that the beneficiary's work has been funded, patented, or published, while possibly demonstrating the originality of the work, does not necessarily prove that the work is significant to the field. However, published research that has generated widespread comment on its importance from others working in the field and documentation that it has been widely cited in comparison to other work in the field can demonstrate the importance of the beneficiary's contributions to the field of effort .

Likewise, evidence that the beneficiary has developed a patented technology that has attracted significant attention or commercialization can demonstrate the importance of the beneficiary's original contribution to the field. If a patent is still pending, USCIS will likely request additional supporting evidence to document the originality of the beneficiary's contribution.

Detailed letters from experts in the field, explaining the nature and importance of the beneficiary's contributions, can also provide valuable context for evaluating the alleged original contributions of significant importance, particularly where the records contain documentation corroborating the claimed importance.

Submitted letters should specifically describe the beneficiary's contribution and its relevance to the field, and should also demonstrate the writer's basis of knowledge and expertise.

Evidence of the beneficiary's authorship of academic articles in the field, published in peer-reviewed journals or other relevant media.


  • Publications in professionally relevant journals.
  • Published conference presentations at nationally or internationally recognized conferences.


To meet this criterion, the beneficiary must be a listed author of the submitted articles, but does not have to be the sole or first author. Furthermore, a petitioner is not required to provide evidence that the beneficiary's published work has been cited in order to meet this criterion.

In addition, the articles must be scientific. In academia, a scholarly article reports original research, experiment, or philosophical discourse. It is written by a researcher or expert in the field, often affiliated with a college, university or research organization, and the article is usually peer-reviewed.

Generally, it should contain footnotes, endnotes, or a bibliography, and may contain graphs, charts, videos, or images to illustrate the concepts expressed in the article. In non-academic fields, a scholarly article should be written for scholars in that field.

When assessing whether a submitted publication is a professional publication, a major professional publication or a major medium, relevant factors are the intended audience (for professional publications and major professional publications) and the circulation, readership or viewership compared to other media in this area (e.g. important specialist publications and other important media).

Evidence that the beneficiary has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and bodies of excellent reputation.


  • Senior faculty or senior research position for a prestigious academic department or program.
  • Senior research position for a reputable non-academic institution or company.
  • Principal or designated investigator for a department, institution, or company that has received a performance-based government award, e.g. a grant for academic research or Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).
  • Member of a key committee within a respected organization.
  • Founder or co-founder or intellectual property contributor to a start-up company that enjoys an excellent reputation.
  • Critical or significant supporting role to a distinguished organization or department of an institution or company, as detailed by the director or a principal investigator of the organization or department in question.


To show a crucial role, evidence should provide evidence that the beneficiary has contributed in some way significantly to the activities of the organization or body. To demonstrate a significant role, the evidence should demonstrate that the beneficiary's role is (or was) an integral part of the organisation. A leadership role in an organization is often described as critical or essential.

For a supporting role to be considered critical or essential, USCIS considers other factors, such as: B. whether the beneficiary's performance in the role is (or was) integral to or important to the goals or activities of the organization or facility, particularly in relation to others in similar positions within the organization.

It is not the title of the beneficiary's role, but rather the duties and performance of the beneficiary in the role that determine whether the role is (or was) critical or essential. Detailed cover letters from people with personal knowledge of the importance of the beneficiary's role can be particularly helpful in analyzing this criterion. The organization need not have employed the beneficiary directly.

In addition, the organization or facility must have an excellent reputation. Relevant factors in assessing the reputation of an organization or facility may be the size of its customer base, its longevity, or relevant media coverage.

For academic departments, programs, and institutions, officials may also consider national rankings and receipt of government research grants as positive factors in some cases.

For a start-up company, officials may consider providing evidence that the company has received significant funding from government agencies, venture capital funds, business angels, or other such backers consistent with rounds of funding generally appropriate for the stage and industry of that start-up. ups were achieved, as a positive factor in its excellent reputation.

Evidence that the beneficiary has either requested or will request a high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.


  • Tax returns, payslips, or other evidence of past salaries or compensation for services.
  • Contract, letter of employment offer or other evidence of expected salary or compensation for services.
  • Comparative wage or compensation data for the beneficiary's area, such as B. Geographic or position-based compensation surveys.


If the petitioner claims to meet this criterion, it is the petitioner's responsibility to provide appropriate evidence that the beneficiary's remuneration is high compared to others working in similar professions in this field. The following websites, among others, may be helpful in evaluating the relative compensation for a specific area:

Officials should evaluate individuals working outside the United States based on wage statistics or comparable evidence for that location, rather than simply converting the salary into US dollars and then considering whether that salary would be considered high in the United States.

For entrepreneurs or founders of start-up companies, officials will consider evidence that the company has received significant funding from government agencies, venture capital funds, angel investors, or other such financiers when evaluating the credibility of submitted contracts, job offer letters, or other evidence expected salary or payment for services.

Note: If any of the criteria discussed in the attached table do not readily apply to your profession, the petitioner may provide comparable evidence to demonstrate your eligibility. Once the required initial evidence has been provided, USCIS evaluates the body of evidence to determine eligibility.

The policy manual also includesGuidance on the use of comparable evidenceto determine suitability, as well as theGuidance on how USCIS evaluates the body of evidence for O-1A petitions.

Requirement 3 - You must demonstrate that you will continue to work in your field.

(Video) Inside American Immigration | Beyond Borders: USA | FD Real Show

You must provide copies of all written contracts between you and the petitioner/start-up company. If there is no written contract, you can provide a summary of the terms of the verbal agreement under which you will be hired. In addition, you must explain the nature of the events or activities that may involve your employment in the United States.

Requirement 4 - You must obtain an advisory opinion from an appropriate peer group.

The advisory report must be written by an individual or group with expertise in your field in relation to the nature of your work and your qualifications. The consultation should describe your skills and achievements in your field.


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