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The Advantages of O-1 Visa over H-1B Visa

Hi William:

My employer is now considering to apply O-1 visa or H-1B visa for me, because the less H-1B visa quota each year. What are the major advantages of O-1 visa over H-1B visa? Can my wife work in U.S. legally if I am in the O-1 status?


The O-1 visa and H-1B visa have some common requirements and characteristics. The H-1B visa allows the alien professionals in specialty occupations to work for a U.S. employer within 6 year limit. H-1B visa holders often work in fields including engineering, mathematics, science, biotechnology, and businesses.

The O-1 visa is a working visa for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business or athletics. The extraordinary ability can be proved with the evidence such as scholarly publications or proof of high salary that they are at the top of their respective field. An alien applicant seeking an H-1B visa may also be able to qualify for an O-1 visa, if they can provide the necessary documentation of their extraordinary ability.

For the advantage of O-1 visa, there is no annual cap on the number of O-1 visa petitions the USCIS can approve each year, and there is no maximum number of years one can stay in O-1 status. Unlike H-1B, an O-1 visa petition does not require the Labor Condition Application (LCA) to be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

However, an O-1 filing requires that aliens with extraordinary ability in arts to obtain an advisory opinion from a relevant peer group, which may sometimes be difficult to identify. Also, both H-1B and O-1 require an offer of employment, and O-3 visa dependents are not allowed to work in the U.S. 

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