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O-1 Visa: Questions and Answers

By December 24, 2020March 22nd, 2021Extraordinary Ability, Immigration
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What is an O-1 visa?

An O-1 Visa is a visa that allows individuals with extraordinary ability in a number of different fields to come to the U.S.

What are the 2 categories of O-1 visa?

There are 2 subcategories of O-1 visa: O-1A and O-1B visa.

An O-1A visa is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics, and is set aside for people who have risen to the top of their profession.

An O-1B visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts and is set aside for those who have achieved distinction in their field.

For more information about the O-1A visa, please click here.

For more information about the O-1B visa, please click here.

What criteria do I have to meet for the O-1 visa? Do I have to be the best in my field?

For O-1A visa, you will either have to show that you either (i) received a major, internationally recognized award, or (ii) you meet 3 ofthese requirements (for example showing that you are member of prestigious associations in your field or that you received a high salary).

For O-1B visa, you will either have to show that you either (ii) were nominated or received a significant national or international award, or (ii) you will need to meet 3 ofthese requirements.

Does O-1 visa lead to a green card?

Not automatically, but many of our clients who qualify for an O-1 visa qualify and later apply for an Eb-1 green card. Please click here to read more about the Eb-1A green card.

Please click here to see our chart explaining the similarities and difference between O-1A visa and Eb-1A green card.

Can my family come with me to the U.S. if I can an O-1 visa?

Yes, your spouse and children (unmarried and under 21) can apply for an O-3 visa and come to the U.S. with you. Unfortunately, your spouse cannot work in the U.S. while here on an O-3 visa.

What is the application process? Can I just book an appointment at the Consulate?

You will first have to file an O-1 petition with USCIS.

If you are already in the U.S. on some other non-immigrant status (e.g. as a business visitor ), you can request to change your status in the I-129 petition. Please note that if you do the change of status, you will need to obtain the O-1 visa once you leave the U.S. (you will need the O-1 visa to re-enter the U.S.).

If you are currently outside the U.S., you will have to request a Consular processing of your O-1 petition. This means, that after USCIS approves your petition, you will need to schedule an appointment at a U.S. Consulate abroad and get an O-1 visa.

For how long will my O-1 visa be granted?

This will depend. The O-1 visa will be granted for a period of time necessary to accomplish the particular event or activity (but no longer than 3 years).

I need to renew my visa. Can I be granted 3 years again?

Again, this will depend. If you were previously granted an O-1 visa and you want to continue doing the same activities/complete the same activities as outlined in your initial O-1 petition, then you would be applying for a renewal of your O-1 visa and your status would be extended for 1 year.

However, if you fulfilled the activities that were listed in your original O-1 petition and you now have new set of activities/tasks that you will be completing, you could get O-1 status for another 3 years (an argument in this case would be that you will be completing a new set of activities and not completing the activities from your previous O-1 petition).

Is there a limit on how many times I can renew my O-1 visa?

There is not limit as to how many times you can renew your O-1 visa and there is no limit as to how many years you can spend in the U.S. on an O-1 visa. You can keep renewing your O-1 status/O-1 visa indefinitely, as long as you qualify. If your goal is to stay in the U.S. permanently, you could also qualify for an EB-1A green card.

How much does it cost?

Our legal fees for an O-1 petition range from $6,000-$7,500.

Do I need a lawyer for the O-1 visa?

Yes. Like most Immigration law, the O-1 regulations are complicated and you must demonstrate to immigration officials that you have met all of the legal elements.  In addition, the documentation requirements for an O-1 Visa are quite extensive and a legal brief must be written linking all of the elements of the Statute to your case.

Please click here to find out if you can change employer while in the U.S. on an O-1 visa and whether your new employer has to file a new O-1 petition.

Please click here to find out what “distinction” means for the purposes of O-1 visa.

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