I am in the U.S. on an O-1 visa that expires soon. Should my company file for an extension or should the company file a renewal application for 3 years? Which is better?

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If you are currently in the U.S. on an O-1 visa and your visa is about to expire, you company may be considering 2 of the following options: (i) filing an extension for 1 year or renewing your O-1 for 3 years (please see our blog post on this when you click here).

Whether it’s possible to file a renewal application for 3 years will depend on whether the petitioner can make an argument that you are coming to the U.S. to perform services related to a new “event.” If this argument cannot be made, the petitioner will have to file an extension Please see our blog post on what is event for the purposes of O-1 visa when you click here.

Some things to keep in mind when filing an extension:

Advantages:

  • As long as the extension application is filed before your O-1 visa expires, you will get an automatic 240 day employment extension. The benefit of this is that there will be no gap in your employment in case the company needs you in the U.S. For example, if you O-1 status expires on July 15, as long as the extension application was filed before this date, you can keep working for the company for up to 240 days.
  • Even though the Premium processing is currently suspended due to the Corona virus outbreak, this will not affect you as you can keep working for the company for up to 240 days after your O-1 status expired.

Disadvantages:

  • You will only get the extension for one year

Some things to keep in mind when filing a renewal O-1 petition for 3 years:

Advantages:

  • You may get the O-1 visa for the 3 years and avoid filing extension every year

Disadvantages

  • Please note that Premium processing is currently suspended due to the Corona virus outbreak. If you will be filing a new O-1 visa petition, you do not get the automatic 240 day extension, and you have to stop working for the company when you O-1 visa status expires. Therefore, there may be a gap in your employment as it may take USCIS couple months to adjudicate your application.
  • If you file the O-1 petition through Consular notification (this may increase your chances of obtaining the full 3 years), you will have to go to a Consulate and get your O-1 visa stamp before you will be able to start working for the petitioner. The U.S. consulates are currently not processing non-immigrant visa applications, so even once your O-1 petition was approved by USCIS, it may take some time for you to be able to schedule an interview at a Consulate.
  • USCIS may not accept the argument that you are coming to the U.S. to perform activities related to a new event, and only grant you one year of O-1 status. This would mean, that in the hypo above, if the petition was filed as a new O-1 petition, you would have to stop working for the company on July 15, you would not get the benefit of the 240 day extension, and your O-1 visa would still only be granted for one year.

Please see our blog post on O-1B visa when you click here.

You can find key immigration information related to the Corona Virus below

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