Are you looking for a high-skilled temporary work visa and want to explore your options?

USCIS offers many different types of work visas, but O-1 and H-1B visas are some of the best options for people seeking a temporary visa for skilled employment. O-1 and H-1B visas both function as temporary work visas, but have key differences in their eligibility requirements and application processes that you will want to be aware of before you apply for either.

Here is a chart clearing up some of the differences:




CapNot Capped: No annual limit on how many can be approved.Capped: Limited number of new visas available every year, with some exceptions.
Threshold AbilityHigher Threshold Ability: Since You have to demonstrate “extraordinary ability” to obtain an O-1 visa, you are required to demonstrate that you are at the top of your field. The documentation required to do so includes proof of unique accomplishments, such as awards including an Olympic gold medal or a Nobel Prize.Lower Threshold Ability: The only requirements for threshold ability for an H-1B visa is that you specialize in the area that your employer hired you for.
Educational AbilityHigh Education Requirements: Unless you are in a field like entertainment or athletics, most O-1 visa holders hold a degree or educational accomplishment significantly higher than a bachelor’s degree, such as a PhD or multiple graduate level degrees. Low Education Requirements: A bachelor’s degree or an equivalent suffices to obtain an H-1B visa.
Burden of Additional RequirementsAdditional requirements for the O-visa are placed on individuals.Additional requirements for the H-1B visa petition are placed on the employer.
Application WindowCan Apply Any Time: Because an O-visa is not capped, you can apply at any time.  Short Application Window: To apply for an H-1B visa, you have to register to qualify for a cap petition in a lottery process, and if you are not chosen to proceed forward in the cycle you applied for, you will have to re-apply for the next cycle if you wish to try again.
RenewalYour O-1 visa can be renewed indefinitely.Your H-1B visa can be renewed for a maximum of six years.


There are important time, eligibility, fees, and processing considerations for H-1B and O-1 visas. For example, you may be limited to a specific work start date with an H-1B visa and may risk not getting selected in the lottery process. Additionally, an O-1 visa has a higher threshold and narrower set of requirements, so you will need to determine if it is more suited to your specific career trajectory and level of acclaim in your respective field. Therefore, although there is some overlap between H-1B and O-1 visas, it’s important to understand the differences between the two so that you can apply for the one that best suits your immigration situation or career objectives. 

If you would like to learn more about H-1B and O-1 visas and think you might qualify for one, please contact us for an assessment. We can help you determine the best possible pathway to obtaining an employment visa so you can work in the US!


Scroll to top