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O Visas for Researchers and Physicians

Many physicians and researchers decide to remain in the United States temporarily after the expiration of their J-1 visa. Because of the home residency requirement, they are limited as to their visa options. However, the O-1 non-immigrant visa is the perfect fit for those physicians and researchers wanting to stay temporarily in the United States to further their career.

The O-1 non-immigrant visa is valid for a period of up to 3 years. It requires the physician or researcher to have a valid work offer in the United States in their field and provide evidence of his or her extraordinary ability in their field.

The spouse and dependent children under the age of 21 of the O-1 visa applicant may apply for O-3 visas. It is important to keep in mind that the spouse and dependent children of the O-1 visa holder are not eligible to work in the O-3 visa classification. However, dependent children may attend school.

In order to prove their status as an individual of extraordinary ability, researchers and physicians must submit evidence of three of the following categories:

1. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.
2. Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field.
3. Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought.
4. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field.
5. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought.
6. A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.
7. Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought.
8. Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

Additionally, other comparable evidence may be submitted if the above categories do not readily apply to the visa applicant.

The O-1 visa is a viable option for physicians or researchers who want to continue their careers in the United States temporarily or are not eligible for a J-1 visa home residency requirement waiver. It is important to remember that although the O-1 physician or research may remain temporarily in the United States to continue their careers as researchers and physicians, they cannot adjust their status to that of permanent residence without fulfilling the two year home residency requirement, or until they obtain a J-1 visa home residency requirement waiver.

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