The International and Postdoctoral Services Office (IPSO) has prepared this information to assist departments in determining if sponsorship is appropriate for their hiring needs and how to facilitate an O-1 petition for adjudication by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have any questions or need additional information, please email or call Jonathan Harwood, Coordinator of International Services, at or 706-721-0670.

What is a O-1?

The O-1 nonimmigrant category was established for aliens with extraordinary ability in three different categories:

  1. Aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, and athletics
  2. Aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts
  3. Aliens of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or TV industries.

Augusta University will petition for people who are eligible for category 1.

NOTE: These personnel can hold permanent positions as long as they depart the U.S. when the authorized period of stay expires or another valid nonimmigrant or immigrant status is obtained.

An O-1 petition establishes that Augusta University regards this individual as a person of extraordinary ability in the sciences.

In order to petition for the O category, Augusta University must comply with the following regulations:

  1. The potential O-1 employee must be hired into a position in the field of expertise as outlined in the documentation that proves extraordinary ability.
  2. Augusta University must obtain a written advisory opinion from an appropriate peer group, labor organization, or management organization in the area of the alien's ability.
    A “peer group” is a group or organization that is comprised of practitioners of the applicant's occupation. However, if no such organization exists, the advisory opinion may be waived.
  3. Augusta University is responsible for the reasonable cost of return transportation of the O-1 employee if s/he is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation.

Once USCIS grants the petition, the alien employee must obtain an O-1 nonimmigrant visa stamp from a U.S. Consulate to travel in and out of the U.S.

How does USCIS define a person of extraordinary ability?

To qualify as an O-1 in the sciences, education, business and athletics, the alien must be one of the small percentage of persons who has risen to the very top of his or her field of endeavor. The alien must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise by providing evidence of:

  1. Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, or
  2. At least three (3) of the following forms of documentation:
    • Receipt of lesser of nationally or 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 recognized national or international experts in the discipline or fields)
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien concerning the alien's work in the field (include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation)
    • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the field
    • Letters and affidavits from prominent colleagues who can confirm applicant's scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media
    • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
    • Other comparable evidence

Who needs to file an O-1 petition?

An O-1 petition permits employment of an individual only for the employer who files the petition. Augusta University will only petition for personnel whom Augusta University wishes to employ. The hiring department must begin this process on behalf of new and continuing personnel.

When does an O-1 petition need to be filed?

On average, it takes 60 to 180 days to obtain an O-1 petition. If the alien employee is not currently in the U.S., the process to obtain an O-1 visa adds additional time. It is recommended that a petition be filed with USCIS between 45 days and four months before the employee will begin services.

How long is an O-1 valid?

The O-1 petition is valid for the period of time necessary to complete the event or activity, not to exceed three years initially.

Requesting an Extension

Augusta University can extend employment of the O-1 alien in order to continue the same event or activities specified in the original petition for increments of one year at a time. Augusta University must submit a written statement explaining the reasons for the extension.

Can an employee seek both permanent residency an O-1 status at the same time?

Yes. Permanent Residence is considered an immigrant category, while an O-1 is considered a nonimmigrant category. The O-1 is not a prerequisite for Permanent Residence.

Will Augusta University petition for O-1 dependents (O-3 status)?

Yes, Augusta University will petition for dependents. There is a fee that must be paid by the beneficiary.

Who can be considered for 0-3 status?

Qualifying O-3 members are the spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years of age of the principal O-1 visa holder.

Can an 0-3 visa holder work while in the US?

No. An O-3 visa holder cannot legally work in the United States but may engage in full- or part-time study.

Request O-1 Processing

1. From the Hiring Department

An O-1 application consists of the following documents, submitted from both the hiring college/department and the O-1 applicant.

  • Completed O-1 Processing Request Form (Health Sciences) or O-1 Processing Request Form (Summerville) from: college/hiring unit manager emailed to IPSO
  • Copy of job offer letter for new hires
  • A check, payable to Department of Homeland Security, for $460.  IPSO will provide further details about the check request when the petition is ready for filing with USCIS.
  • A support letter from the Dean of the College, Department Chair or Institute/Center Director
  • An outline of this letter will be provided by IPSO following an initial meeting with the applicant/employee. Please call 1-0670 to schedule this appointment.

2. From the Applicant/Employee

All applicants must provide the following:

* Foreign Medical Graduates please provide ECFGM certification and USMLE scores.

  • A current resume or curriculum vita


Applicants currently in the United States must also attach the following documents:

  • Copy of most recent 1-94
  • Copy of current I-20; DS-2019 & I-612, if applicable; I-797; EAD, etc. (your appropriate work permission document)
  • Nonimmigrant Applicant Form (including dependent's section, if applicable)


Applicants extending prior O-1 must also attach the following documents:

  • Copy of most recent I-94
  • Copies of all prior O-1 approval notices (Form I-797)
  • Nonimmigrant Applicant Form (including dependent's section, if applicable)

3. From the Dependent(s) of Applicant

  • Nonimmigrant Applicant Form (dependent's section)
  • Copy of Passport (must be current through the period of stay requested for the O-3 visa holders)
  • Copy of Current visa and most recent I-94 

Take the Next Step

Immigration Consultation