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USA
April 15, 2024

How to Meet the “Judging” Criteria for the O-1 Talent Visa for the United States

To obtain the O-1A visa for the USA, it's necessary to meet at least three out of eight extraordinary ability criteria, among which is the judging of others' work in competitions and events. The official description by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states: "Evidence of the beneficiary's participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization for which classification is sought."

What types of competitions are eligible for the O-1 visa case? 

For the O-1 visa, you must demonstrate that you have judged the work of other peer professionals or their projects. For example: 

  • Reviewed scientific papers.
  • Served as a jury member for professional or business competitions.
  • Participated in award panels.
  • Judged hackathons or similar IT events.
  • Reviewed applications for participation in accelerators.
  • Evaluated prospective projects for venture capital investments.
  • Judged sporting events.
  • Served on juries of art competitions, including architectural ones.

Each specialization can have its own list of events to target. For startup founders, judging at pitch sessions or startup contests like Slush or Web Summit Pitch would be suitable.


The "Judging" criteria for the O-1 visa for the US can be met by providing the following documents: 
  • Invitations to serve on a jury from the contest’s organizers.
  • Screenshots from event websites where your name appears among the jury members.
  • Media publications mentioning your name as part of the jury.
  • Event materials: competition or conference programs listing you as a jury member.
  • Evidence of your role in the evaluation process: copies of scoring sheets, participation certificates, and minutes of jury meetings.
  • Letters of appreciation addressed to you as a jury member by the organizers.

If you mention a contest or competition in your O-1 visa application,  you need to confirm its prestige by providing:
  • Evidence of the high reputation of the contest or jury: ratings, reviews, and articles in the press that confirm their credibility.
  • Contest rules with award criteria.
  • Information about the geographic scope of participants and the number and value of prizes.
  • Lists of previous winners.

Your Role

Your role related to the assessment of other participants' work must be formally assigned to you. Recommendation letters from organizers can help demonstrate the specific merits that led to your selection as a judge. However, judging must not be your direct professional duties. For example, if you are an auditor, Business Development Manager, or a professional sports judge, and you have been assigned to evaluate a project as part of your job, this cannot serve as evidence for the O-1 visa criteria. Also, evaluating the work of your students or subordinates does not qualify. Only judging of peers is eligible.

Matching Your Professional Field

The contests and competitions used to meet the "Judging" criteria should align with the field of activity you declare as primary in your O-1 visa application.

You can support this with:

  • Excerpts from the competition rules showing requirements and criteria for contestants and judges.
  • Media announcements of the competition mentioning requirements for participants.
  • Lists of other participants or winners that confirm the thematic connection with your field of expertise.

Is judging one event sufficient to meet this criteria?

Technically, yes, judging one event can meet the O-1 visa criteria. However, judging two or three events will further strengthen your application.

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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