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June 7, 2024

How to Meet the “High Salary” Criteriа for the O-1 Talent Visa for the United States

To obtain the O-1A visa for the USA, it is necessary to meet at least three out of eight extraordinary ability criteria, one of which is the high salary of the applicant. The official wording on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for this O-1 visa criteria is: "Evidence that the beneficiary has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence"

The "High Salary" criteria for the O-1 visa requires evidence that your annual remuneration significantly exceeds the average salary level in your professional field. There isn't a specific benchmark for how much higher it needs to be above average figures, but based on our observations, if your salary ranks within the top 5-10% for your field in your region, you will meet the requirement for the O-1 visa successfully.

You must furnish two types of evidence:
  1. Documentary proof of income
    For this task, make use of the following documents:some text
    • If you are employed in the United States, provide forms W-2 or 1099.
    • In other countries, the analogues are personal income tax reporting forms, income statements from the employer, Labor contracts with confirmation of salary payments, bank statements.
  2. Comparison with the average salary in this field
    To prove that your salary is significantly above average in your professional field in your region, it is advisable to use salary data from at least two independent sources. Typically, these are:some text
    • statistical agencies (governmental and commercial),
    • companies and websites for selecting employees.

In the United States and elsewhere these could be: CareerOneStop, Salary Expert, PayScale.com, GlassDoor, Levels.fyi, Foreign Labor Certification Data Center (FLCDC).

To prove the "High Salary" criteria for the O-1 visa for the USA, you can also use materials from well-known media outlets — such as articles and rankings about the salary levels of professionals in your field, screenshots of job listings from major agencies or job search websites.

For accurate comparison, it is important to provide comparable data — the same calendar year (preferably within three to five years). It is better to specify amounts in both local currency and their dollar equivalent, using the same exchange rate.

Criteria of outstanding abilities for an O-1A visa for the USA
  • Awards. You have received significant nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards in your field.
  • Membership. You are a member of a professional organization or community.
  • Published material about you. You were featured in publications or interviews in the national or international press.
  • Judging. You have served as a judge in a professional contest in your field.
  • Original contribution. You have made a significant contribution to the development of your industry, for example, through patents or publications about your work and projects.
  • Authorship of scholarly articles. You have been an author or co-author of publications in major or industry media or academic journals.
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity. You have held an important position in a well-known company.
  • High salary. You were highly remunerated in the company.

Learn your chances or book a free consultation with our team to learn more about the O-1 visa.

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