O-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or the motion picture and television fields. With a favorable trend in approval rates, this visa guarantees you the possibility to expand your business or professional career in the United States.
This article analyzes the next steps after the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and you are halfway to being granted your O-1 Visa. You will also find helpful information to understand what to do after your O-1 Visa is approved and to move the first steps in the United States.
What is an O-1 Visa?
The O-1 Visa is granted to allow extraordinary individuals to work in the United States, for a maximum period of three years, according to the necessary time to complete the event or activity in the U.S. The O-1 Visa regulations consider the possibility to extend the Visa duration or start a process toward a permanent residence (more info on the Permanent Residence process here).
Steps toward your O-1 Visa approval
Two main stages have to be overcome to finally hold an O-1 Visa in your hands: first, the approval of the O-1 Petition through Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and, secondly, the approval of the O-1 Visa itself. This article explains in detail the first stage requirements, and what you need to consider applying for an O-1 Visa and submitting an O-1 Petition.
The approval of your Petition arrives as a letter named I-797 Notice of Action, with an I-94 card at the bottom. It may be delivered anywhere from 2 to 8 months, depending on the USCIS Service Center that processes your Petition. As soon as you receive it, you may start the application for an O-1 Visa. There are five main steps to consider:
1. Apply for a Nonimmigrant Visa through Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160)
The first step consists in completing the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160). You can find an example of what it looks like here to prepare yourself with all the needed information.
- After completing the Application, you have to print the confirmation page. It is required during the interview.
- The Visa Application requires you to upload a photo of yourself. Carefully check the photo requirements here.
2. Find a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and schedule an interview
The next step is to select a suitable U.S. Embassy or Consulate to attend an appointment and have an interview with an Officer. Wait time varies depending on the city you intend to go to; use this website to check your closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Please, consider: Generally, people under 13 years old or above 80 years old are not required to attend an interview. However, Consular Officers have the final word on whether to make an appointment with applicants, regardless of their ages.
3. Pay the Visa Fee
Before attending the interview, you will have to pay a non-refundable visa application fee. For Petition-based Visa categories (which include O-1 Visa), the amount to pay is $190.00 US Dollars.
4. Attend the interview appointment
You will have to bring the following documentation to your appointment: your passport (valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States), Form DS-160 confirmation page, your application fee payment receipt, the Receipt Number on your Form I-797 Notice of Action. You may be asked to bring additional documents, according to the Officers’ requests.
During the appointment, you will be digitally fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed about your visa application and your prospective stay in the United States. If Consular Officers verify the veracity between your answers and your application you will very likely be granted the O-1 Visa, or you will be informed if the Officer needs additional documents in order to make a final determination (administrative processing).
5. Wait for the decision
If your Visa is approved, you may have to pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality. Your passport will be returned to you with your Visa .
After your O-1 Visa approval: moving to the United States
The validity of your O1A will be indicated on the visa stamp.. You can enter the United States 10 days before the validity period begins and, at the port of entry, you may request to extend your stay up to 10 days after the visa expiration. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at the port of entry are not required to grant these additional days, but you may still request them. Please, be aware that this extension does not allow you to work after the expiration date on your Visa.
After your O-1 Visa approval: The Social Security Number (SSN)
O-1 Visa holders are eligible for a Social Security Number, which is necessary to be employed. To request it, you will have to visit a Social Security Administration (SSA) Office with your valid passport and your I-94 Departure Record, which can be downloaded here. The issuance of your SSN varies depending on the local office and may take between two to eight weeks.
Extension of O-1 Status
In case you will need to extend your stay in the United States, you can apply for a Visa Extension. This article explains in detail how to extend your Visa, and under which conditions you are allowed to apply for an extension.
The required documents are:
- Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker filed by your U.S. employer or agent,
- A copy of your I-94 (your Arrival/Departure Record).
A statement that will explain the reasons for which you want an extension, including evidence of factors that leads to unnecessary delay or extension.
Evidence that you maintained the previous O1A may include pay stubs.
Change of employer with an O-1 Visa Status
Your O-1 Visa is linked to the Petitioner who filed your application, therefore your employer. If you want to change your job, your new employer will have to file a Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker for you before the expiration of your current O-1 Visa.
In case your current O-1 Visa expires, and you do not have a Petitioner yet, you will have to leave the country and define a contract and a work offer from abroad.
Green Card after O-1 Visa
If you hold an O-1 Visa and you intend to live in the United States for a longer period, you may evaluate if the Lawful Permanent Residence is a suitable option for you.
The first step would be to apply for an EB-1 visa, reserved for truly highly capable people. This article describes EB-1 Visa eligibility, categories, and requirements.
The second step, after an EB-1 approval, would be to apply for an Adjustment of Status, which will lead you to a Lawful Permanent Residence, also known as a Green Card. If you want to know more about the Adjustment of Status process, this article may interest you.
The United States provides visas for different nonimmigrant categories and an O-1 Visa is definitely a desirable option for individuals possessing extraordinary abilities. O-1 Visa holders do not often end their process by only obtaining their status, as they are interested in pursuing a more stable condition in the United States or changing their current professional situation. Therefore, knowing how to maintain their status, how to extend their visa, or how to change their employer may be valuable knowledge to keep in mind.
PassRight can help you and assist you at any stage of your O-1 Visa process, whether you want to know if you fulfill the requirements or you want to proceed toward the Lawful Permanent Residence. We invite you to contact us here.
Does the U.S. Consulate or Embassy have to be in my home country?It may be, but it is not a requirement. Usually, the designated Consulate or Embassy is in the Beneficiary’s last place of residence abroad.
Can I travel with my O-1 Visa?Yes, you can travel in the United States and abroad, and re-enter the country. You require the following documents submitted before USCIS at the time of re-entry: The valid O-1 Visa stamp in your passport, your latest and updated employment letter to show that you are currently employed as an O-1 Visa beneficiary, and a valid passport.