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March 18, 2024

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

To successfully apply for a US O-1A visa,  which is designed for those with outstanding achievements in science, education, business, or sports, it is important to demonstrate that you meet several criteria which includes gaining membership in professional associations. 

Which associations are eligible for the O-1 visa?

Associations suitable for the O-1 visa are those whose membership is based on professional merits, achievements, and reputation within the professional community, verified by recognized national or international experts. In the IT sector, for instance, associations like the CTO Forum, Forbes Business Council, IEEE, and IACSIT stand out.

The association should have clear requirements for outstanding achievements listed in its charter or on its official website. Associations where the sole membership criteria is the payment of a fee, or those aimed at a specific professional level without considering achievements (for example, “for mid-level managers”), do not qualify for the US O-1 visa. In associations like IEEE, being at the Senior Grade level is advisable, as lower levels do not set achievement requirements.

Tip: If your association lacks stringent membership criteria, consider joining its board of directors, which can prove your selection for the senior level.

Specializing in a narrow professional field enhances your chances of meeting the O-1 visa criteria. For example, instead of a broad “technology entrepreneurship,” opting for a more specific area like “AI/ML/WEB3 entrepreneurship” is preferable.

For startup founders, participation in accelerator programs often meets the membership criterion for the O-1 visa, especially if the accelerator is highly selective (e.g., Techstars with no more than 5% of accepted applications) and the selection is conducted by a team of business experts, assessing both the startup's potential and the founder's skills and achievements.

Required Documents:

To  prove membership in associations for the O-1 visa for the US, you need to provide:

  • Membership documents: membership card, certificate, association member profile page, letter of admission, etc.
  • Professional field relevance: proof that the association's activity directly relates to your professional area.
  • Achievement requirements: provide excerpts from the association's charter or rules that outstanding accomplishments are required for membership, or an official letter from the association confirming that membership was granted based on your specific merits.
  • Peer review level: information about the experts reviewing membership applications should be provided. They should be recognized authorities in the relevant field.
  • Goals and mission of the association: documents reflecting the main goals, mission, and activities of the association.
  • Notable members: information about other prominent members of the association can reinforce its prestige and confirm the significance of your participation.

Tips for Applying for the O-1 Visa for the United States:
  • Look beyond local or narrow professional networks and explore international and national associations in your field.
  • Keep copies of all documents proving your membership and the association's criteria.
  • If the association's website lacks specific information, request a detailed letter from the association describing the criteria and selection process.

A meticulous approach to selecting the right associations and documenting your membership will reinforce your status as an outstanding professional in your field and serve as a strong argument when applying for the O-1 visa for the US.

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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