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My O-1 status is about to expire but my employer filed an application for extension. Can I continue working for my employer after my O-1 status expires? Can I Leave the Country?

By April 17, 2020March 23rd, 2021Extraordinary Ability, Immigration
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If you are currently in the U.S. on O-1 status, and your O-1 status is about to expire, you can stay in the U.S. and keep working for your employer if the same employer that originally sponsored you for the O-1 visa files an extension application with USCIS before your O-1 status expires.

Example

Company X sponsored you for the O-1 visa in 2017 and the application was approved on May 1, 2017. Your O-1 status expires on May 1, 2020 (you can find out when exactly your O-1 status expires on your I-797A Approval Notice). If Company X files an O-1 extension application before your O-1 status expires on May 1, 2020, you could continue working for Company X while your extension application is being processed for up to 240 days from the date your O-1 status expired.

Please note that USCIS must receive the extension application before your I-94 expires.

My O-1 extension application was denied. Can I keep working for the Company for up to 240 days after my I-94 expires?

No. If your extension application is denied, you have to stop working for the Company immediately. If your I-94 has already expired at the time your extension is denied you should prepare to leave the U.S. right away to avoid accruing unlawful presence.

Can I travel outside the U.S. while my extension application is pending and come back to take advantage of the 240 day extension?

No. In the example above, your O-1 visa (if you obtained one) would only have been granted for the validity period on the O-1 approval notice from USCIS, so the visa would likely expire on May 1, 2020. Therefore, if you left the U.S. after May 1, 2020, you would not be able to re-enter because you would not have a valid visa. In that case you would need to wait outside the U.S. until the O-1 extension was approved and then you could take the approval to a Consulate to get an O-1 visa stamp. If you had another valid visa you might be able to re-enter the U.S., but you would not be able to work for the O-1 employer until the extension was approved.

Please click here if you want to read more about the O-1 visa.

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