On October 6, 2020 USCIS published a new O-1 policy. In this policy, they have formalized what is known as the Kazarian analysis. While this is a new formal policy for O-1 visas, it has been commonly seen in USCIS’s Requests for Evidence (RFE).
The Kazarian analysis is a comparative analysis of the merits of the case, the totality of the circumstances, the impact of your contributions, etc. The Kazarian analysis is rooted in a case known as Kazarian v. USCIS. The decision of this case led USCIS to issue a policy memo that changed its review process for EB-1 and EB-2 petitions to a “two-step review”. The first step focuses on counting pieces of evidence and the second step focuses on determining the merits of the case.
Before this policy change with the O-1 visa, USCIS was not looking at the totality of your circumstances; USCIS was looking to see if you have established yourself as an extraordinary individual in your field. Yet with this policy change, the Kazarian analysis is used for the O-1 visa. For example, if you are getting off of your OPT, and you want to prep for the O-1, it is important that you strategize with an experienced attorney in order to set up your career for your O-1 visa application during your OPT. With this newly formalized policy, this will be much more difficult.