O-1 Visas Are Underutilized

  • By: Serving Immigrants
  • Published: March 23, 2020
O-1 Visas Are Underutilized

For years, businesses have focused on using the H1-B visa in order to get highly talented employees to the United States. However, since early 2017, obtaining work authorization as a highly-skilled employee has become more difficult. Over recent years there have been significant delays and an increase in denials. Applicants must also overcome the hurdle of being selected in the lottery for visas.

In the wake of these issues, there is a visa that many businesses have overlooked that is being underutilized. The O-1, extraordinary ability visa may be available to many highly skilled professionals and should be a consideration. This visa is the closest the United States has to a merit-based visa. Unlike other visas the O-1 visa focuses on an individual’s past proven ability.


According to State Department statistics, there are a comparatively small number of O-1 visas processed in the United States. In 2018, only 16,904 O-1 visas were processed. In comparison, there were 179,660 H1-B visas processed and 74,388 L-1 visas issued. The gap could be much larger if there wasn’t a cap on the number of H1-B visas issued.

Why Are O-1 Visas Underutilized?

It may appear at first glance that there are fewer O-1 visas issued because there simply aren’t enough people with extraordinary ability. However, the reality is that O-1 visas may take a little more time and resources during the application process. Businesses may not want to take that on. However, businesses should consider the flexibility that an O-1 visa provides and take that into consideration.

In addition, individuals may underestimate their own qualifications and believe that they would not qualify for an O-1 visa. This level of self-doubt may prevent qualified candidates form at least applying for a visa. A good immigration attorney can evaluate your situation and determine whether you have a realistic chance of qualifying for the O-1 visa.

Contact An Experienced Visa Attorney

If you want to explore the possibility of an O-1 visa, you should have an experienced immigration attorney evaluate your case. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the application process and we’re not afraid to think outside the box. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.

Magdalena Cuprys, Esq.

As an immigrant and a refugee herself, attorney Magdalena Cuprys understands how
important, terrifying, and exciting immigrating to America can be. She understands
how important it is to have one’s legal status in order to achieve the American dream.

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