O-1 visa status is perhaps the most versatile nonimmigrant category in that it encompasses a wide spectrum of fields and professions, in the sciences, the arts, entertainment, education, business, or athletics. Because of its versatility, this visa classification allows for ample room for creativity in creating a successful petition. O-1 visa applicants must be leaders or high achievers in their chosen field and be recognized as such by their peers.

One advantage of the O visa is that there is no set maximum period for O-1 status. An initial stay is for up to three years, and sponsorship can be through an employer or an agent, which allows the applicant to work freelance. This period may be extended for one-year increments thereafter with the same sponsor, or for an additional three years with a new sponsor. Most importantly, O-1 visa status can be used as a platform for an eventual self-sponsored green card.