O-1 Extraordinary Ability

The O-1 status is a Notre Dame sponsored status designed for those individuals who have:

  • demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics;
  • whose ability has been recognized by sustained national or international acclaim; and
  • whose achievements have been extensively documented.

“Extraordinary ability” is defined by DHS as a “level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor”. [8 CFR 214.2(o)(3)(II)].

Overview of O-1 Status

Status sponsor: University of Notre Dame
Status Authorized & Regulated by: USCIS
Length of authorization: 1-3 years, can be extended in 1 year increments (no limit on extensions)
Activities on campus: Teaching, research, or other specialty 
Education level: No education requirement
Eligibility: Individual has sustained national or international recognition and acclaim; their extraordinary achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics have been extensively documented
Appointment Source: Varies

ISSA is the point of contact for academic units to initiate O-1 petitions, including extensions, but processing and filing is handled by outside counsel.  

O-1 Instructions for Departments

After completing the ISSA Immigration Request Form (IRF), the academic unit receives an email that confirms the O-1 recommendation and outlines next steps for initiating the O-1 petition, including the following:

Hiring Packet

When the academic unit has decided to proceed with the recommended O-1 visa type, they will reach out to the Office of the Provost or Office for Postdoctoral Affairs to complete the hiring packet and issue the appointment letter.

Complete Information Forms

After receipt of the appointment letter, ISSA will email the academic unit two links for Google folders so they can upload the documents needed for the petition. Once the academic unit has received the Google folder links, they will provide the beneficiary folder link to the beneficiary.

The Academic Unit folder contains three documents:

  • Information Request
  • Hiring Packet
  • Academic Unit Agreement Form

We recommend completing the Information Request document first as this will allow ISSA and external counsel to begin processing the required documents. The Academic Unit Agreement form will provide information about expected fees for the petition process, confirmation that the academic unit understands the unit is responsible for all legal, filing, and shipping fees, and confirms the FOAPAL for payment.

  • The Beneficiary folder contains the O-1 Questionnaire. This is the same folder where the beneficiary will upload all supporting documents, which are listed on the O-1 Questionnaire.
Tracking the Petition

ISSA will track the progress of the petition with external counsel and notify the academic unit by email when the O-1 petition is filed and when USCIS responds.

USCIS Responds

When USCIS responds to the petition, ISSA will notify the academic unit and beneficiary.

  • If the O-1 is approved and the original approval notice is received, ISSA will email the academic unit and beneficiary instructions on picking up or shipping the original approval notice.
  • If a request for evidence (RFE) or denial is received, ISSA will reach out to the academic unit for next steps.
Check-in with ISSA

Upon arrival on campus for their Notre Dame appointment, the O-1 Employee should complete all required Human Resources check-ins, but they will also be required to complete the O-1 Status Check-in with ISSA.

Special Notes for O-1 Status

212(e) Exemption

Foreign nationals who are subject to the two-year home residency requirement based on previous participation in a J-1 exchange program are eligible for O-1 status without having to obtain a J-1 waiver of the two-year home residency requirement. To obtain O-1 status in this situation, it is likely required that the foreign national travel abroad and obtain an O-1 visa at the U.S. consulate.


The dependent spouse and children (under age 21) of an O-1 principal may be granted O-3 status. O-3 dependents may study in the U.S., but employment is not permitted. The O-1 beneficiary is responsible for filing the appropriate immigration applications for dependents.