What is an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa is tailored to individuals who possess extraordinary ability in specific fields. This includes but not exclude arts, science, business, and education.

Since it is a dual intention permit, you may change your status from an O1 visa to a Green Card for permanent residence in the U.S. Once you get your permanent resident status, you may also be able to submit your Green Card petition for your family.

How can we help with your O1 Visa application?

When seeking entrance into the U.S., applicants can feel uneasy about the stages of the process that they need to overcome. Here at IAS, our immigration lawyers are experienced in helping people obtain their visas.

We can offer competent legal guidance, tailored to your needs. Your lawyers will ensure that you follow the right immigration path, saving you money, time, and stress. We can help you file your petition forms to the highest standard. Before you are ready to apply, we can also review your case to check if you meet the visa requirements.

To get in touch with one of our immigration lawyers, you can use our online contact form or call us on +1844 290 6312.


What are the O1 Visa tiers?

The O1 Visa is a nonimmigrant permit available to individuals who can either:

  • Demonstrate extraordinary ability in peculiar areas of expertise (O-1A Visa);
  • Prove that their work has been recognized nationally or internationally (O-1B Visa);
  • Accompany an O-1 holder as “essential” assistants to the completion of his or her performance (O-2 Visa);
  • Be the immediate relative of an O1 permit holder (O-3 Visa).

What are the O-1 Visa requirements?

To qualify for an O-1 permit, you must meet specific visa criteria. First, you must prove that you have received acclaim for your extraordinary ability. Besides, you need to provide at least three of the following documents:

  • An internationally recognized award of excellence in your area of interest;
  • Memberships in reputable associations in your discipline;
  • Published material in professional and accredited publications;
  • Evidence of your contribution of major significance in your sphere of influence;
  • Proof of your employment in critical organizations that have a distinguished reputation in the field.

Moreover, to meet all the O1 Visa requirements, you must intend to stay in the U.S. only temporarily.

If you are applying for an O-2 Visa, you must demonstrate your indispensable role in support of an alien with extraordinary ability.

Who is an alien with “extraordinary ability”?

The law regards as “extraordinary ability” a higher level of expertise that is common only to a small percentage of professionals.

Therefore, you must demonstrate a certain degree of distinction. Your skills must get recognition at the extent that your competence is described as leading and well-known in your field.

The legal definition of “extraordinary ability” applies to several industries. However, it refers only to professionals who have a predominant role in this field.

What is the difference between an O1 Visa and an EB1 Visa?

Both the O1 Visa and the EB1 Visa are targeted at highly-specialized professionals. Nevertheless, they still have several significant differences.

The EB-1 permit in an immigration visa, meaning it can be used to live and work in the U.S. permanently. On the contrary, the O-1 Visa is a non-immigrant permit that can initially grant only a temporary stay in the country.

The O-1 Visa is usually one of the most desirable U.S. permits since it is not subject to annual caps, unlike other visas. In addition, there is no set level or education nor minimum wage requirements. Nevertheless, you must possess extraordinary ability in your field to qualify for this permit.

While the O1 Visa is open to different professionals, the EB1 Visa category is not tailored to those who work in media and television arts. On the other side, EB1-1 Visa applicants do not necessarily need to be sponsored by their employee to apply. In the case of EB1-2 Visa, only the most outstanding professors and researchers are selected to enter the U.S.

Only the immediate relatives of an EB-1 Visa holder are granted Green Cards upon approval. If you hold an O-1 Visa, your family members can still apply for an O-3 Visa.

How to get an O1 Visa?

Along with your Form I-129, you must submit the following documentary evidence:

  • A written advisory opinion from a person with expertise in your area of ability. This must include a watermark to confirm the authenticity of the document;
  • A copy of any written contract between you and the employer. It is mandatory to include information about the wage offered and all the condition of employment;
  • A detailed explanation of the nature of your activities in the U.S.;
  • Supporting documentation, that can vary whether you are applying for an O-1 or an O-2 Visa.

If you are an O-2 Visa applicant, your petition must be filed in conjunction with the one completed by the O-1 alien.

How long can you stay in the U.S. with an O1 Visa?

This permit is initially granted for up to three years. Subsequently, you can apply for an O-1 Visa renewal for one year at a time. While there is no limit to the number of extensions you can seek, your rationale to stay in the U.S. must stay relevant.

If you are an O-1 holder, you can change your employer while in the U.S. You will need to file a new Form I-129 and explain the reasons for your request.

Can I move from an O-1 Visa to an EB-1 Green Card?

The O1 is a non-immigrant dual intent visa, meaning it may allow its holder to seek permanent residence in the U.S.

While in the country, you can apply to change your immigration status. You must show USCIS that you intend to keep using your extraordinary talent under the EB-1 status. You should thus build an excellent portfolio and submit it together with your petition.

The total processing time for your change of status may take up to one year.

If your petition is rejected, you must be willing to leave the U.S. when your authorized nonimmigrant stay expires.

It is important to note that O-2 Visa holders can pursue legal permanent residence as well. Since their petition will be evaluated only on their own merit, they can also apply for an EB-2 or an EB-3 visa program. However, in this case, it may be more challenging to demonstrate the extraordinary ability required to change the visa status.

What is the O1 Visa processing time?

The O1 Visa processing time tends to be shorter than other permit applications. Since the USCIS does not need to check if you hold a labor certification, it may only take between 2 to 3 months to review your application.

If needed, your sponsor can pay for an O1 Visa premium processing time to receive an answer from the USCIS within only 15 days. This requires an additional fee of $1,225.

Once your petition is approved, you will be summoned for an interview. This stage can take several weeks, making the whole O1 Visa processing time about 4 to 5 months long.

Why choose IAS?

Under the Trump administration, the current political climate for non-immigrant applicants may change. For this reason, the best thing to do is to seek professional guidance.

Your IAS immigration lawyers will:

  • Liaise with your employer or sponsor;
  • File and review your Form I-129;
  • Check if you meet the O1 Visa requirements;
  • Support you in case you want to change your visa to another immigrant status.

Contact us today to arrange your first visa strategy session. One of our immigration attorneys will be happy to help you gain your permit. Together you will build a comprehensive application portfolio.

Call us on +1844 290 6312 or use our online contact form. One of our advisors will be in touch with you at the earliest.

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