O-1 Visa

The O-1 visa is a non-resident U.S. visa for people who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field,
whether that be the arts, sport, business, education, or the sciences.

What is an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa could be considered the non-resident equivalent of the EB1-1 ( the “Extraordinary Ability Green Card,” which gives permanent residency). This does not mean that the O-1 visa requirements are any lesser/easy: the applicant needs to prove they are at the top of their field.

O-1 Visa Validity:

The O-1 visa can be granted up to 3 years. However, if it is granted to cover a specific
event, production, or activity, the period may be less. O-1 extensions are available in 1-year increments
but new projects can be up to 3 years. There is no limit on extensions however the visa holder must
show that they are continuing with same position or activity for which the original visa was granted.

Dependents of an O-1 visa holder (i.e. spouse or unmarried children under age 21) can apply for O-3 visas, which allow them to accompany the primary visa holder for the duration of their stay in the United States, either arriving with the O-1 holder or at a later date. O-3 visa holders are permitted to study but not to work in the U.S.

O-1 Visa Requirements

Applicants must be able to provide sufficient evidence for at least three of the following O-1 visa
eligibility requirements:

O1 visa for extraordinary ability

  1. Have received national or international awards or prizes of excellence in their field.
  2. Being a member of associations, whose membership requires outstanding achievement, judged
    by nationally or internationally recognized experts in the respective discipline.
  3. Their work has been featured in professional or high-profile trade publications, or
    mainstream media.
  4. The applicant has served in some capacity as a judge of others in the same (or closely related)
    field. This could either be individual or as part of a judging panel.
  5. Have had articles published in professional or notable trade publications.
  6. Have made original scientific, academic, or business contributions of major significance in their
    respective field.
  7. Have served in a leading or critical capacity for highly regarded organizations or establishments.
  8. Command a high salary or remuneration for their services.
  9. Other relevant evidence of exceptional expertise that does not fit any of the above criteria.

O-1 Visa Processing Time, Extensions, Renewals & Premium Processing

The O-1 is valid for up to three years. In some cases, the visa is granted to cover only a specific event, production, or activity and may be valid for a shorter time.  O-1 visa extensions are available in 1-year increments, and there is no limit to the number of extensions. The O-1 visa holder must prove that they will continue in the same position or activity to qualify for an extension.

Employers can speed up the O-1 processing time by opting to pay a $2,500 premium processing fee for USCIS to approve, deny or issue an RFE within 15 calendar days. Otherwise, an O-1 visa generally takes two to three months to process.

More Tips on Qualifying for an O-1 Visa USA

O-1 Visa to Green Card

How do I go from an O-1 visa to an EB-1A green card and how long does it take?

The O-1 visa provides a path to U.S. residency via the EB-1A green card that applicants can self-petition, employer-petition or get a National Interest Waiver for. The EB-1A green card is particularly desirable because the priority dates are current.

The EB-1A green card processing time generally takes six to eight months, but can reach a year – Premium Processing is available. Once the EB-1A green card (I-140 petition) is approved, you can submit an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence (adjustment of status form). USCIS takes about six months to adjudicate the I-485 adjustment of status and Premium Processing is not available.

On average, it takes around one year to transition from an O-1 visa to an EB-1A green card.

Agent Based Petitions:

An agent can be used as the Petitioner and have multiple direct employers
including entities owned by the beneficiary.

Please contact us to arrange your visa strategy session, where one of our immigration attorneys will be happy to help you navigate your options.

If you are interested in the EB1-1 for the Entertainment Industry, please make sure you watch this 14-minute video: “How To Win an O-1 or EB-1 for Artist and Entertainers”

If you are interested in the EB1-1 for the Sports Industry, please make sure you watch this 60-minute webinar: “How To Win an O-1 or EB-1 in the Sports Industry”

If you are a business professional, check out Jon’s 10-minute video: “O-1/EB-1 for Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs”

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