O-1 Visa for Individuals of “Extraordinary Ability”

O-1 is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa category for individuals of extraordinary ability, meaning those who have distinguished themselves and have as risen to the top of their fields of endeavor. ISchO is the only petitioner to USCIS for O-1 status based on MIT employment. Outside attorneys and agents are not authorized to do this work.

Decisions regarding MIT support of an O-1 application are made by ISchO after consulting with the department, laboratory, or center leadership. A number of factors are considered when deciding whether MIT will support an O-1 application, including the level of the position, the level and certainty of funding for the position, the qualifications of the scholar, the scholar's particular immigration situation, and the departmental support for the case. All O-1s at MIT must register with the ISchO.

Who Qualifies

MIT employment-based sponsorship for O-1 status may be available to highly accomplished scholars for positions on the (1) academic staff; and 2) certain sponsored research positions whose predominant responsibility is conducting direct research. Among those who do not qualify for MIT sponsorship are administrative, technical, library, management, or support staff appointments.

Application Procedures

In all cases involving a prospective researcher or faculty member, and in any other case in which O-1 status is under consideration for a current or prospective employee, ample lead-time is critical. The authorized DLC administrator should discuss the case and submit intake information to an ISchO advisor at least four to six months in advance of the anticipated start date. If ISchO confirms that O-1 status is appropriate, the DLC administrator and international scholar will be provided with a detailed checklist regarding the required procedure and documentation. ISchO completes the application and files the appropriate materials with USCIS.

Limitations and Payment

O-1 status may be requested initially for up to three years and may be renewed subsequently in one-year increments. An O-1 scholar appointed at MIT must generally be paid by MIT. Funding by outside sources may be permitted.

An MIT appointment is only authorized once USCIS has approved the O-1 petition. O-1s may be employed only by the petitioner (MIT). If an individual is in O-1 status for employment elsewhere, that individual is not authorized for employment at the Institute until/unless MIT also files and obtains approval of an O-1 petition.

Dependent Visas

The spouse and children of O-1s are usually granted O-3 visa status. Regulations do not allow O-3s to work. It is possible for an individual in O-3 status to attend school.

Page updated August 2023