When considering a long-term stay in the United States, many O-1 visa holders, especially founders and entrepreneurs, ponder whether it’s worth transitioning to a Green Card. This decision hinges on several key factors, including the planned duration of stay, family situation, and tax implications. In this article, we will explore these aspects to help you make an informed choice.

Please remember that this article does not provide any legal advice and if you would like to discuss your immigration situation, please speak with the immigration attorney. If you would like to speak with our lawyer, please contact us here and our customer care representative will be happy to arrange a call for you with the attorney. 

Understanding the O1 Visa and Green Card visa option

What is an O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in their field, whether it be the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. It offers the advantage of being relatively quick to obtain and allows the holder to work in the U.S. for a specific employer. However, it is generally considered a short-term solution. More information about the O-1 visa is available on the USCIS website here.

What is a Green Card?

In contrast, a Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, grants the holder the right to live and work in the U.S. permanently. It provides a path to citizenship and offers greater stability and flexibility in terms of employment and residency. To learn more about permanent residency, please visit the USCIS website here.

Long-Term Stay Plans

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Stay

If you are planning a short-term stay in the U.S., the O-1 visa might be sufficient for your needs. The O-1 visa can be initially granted for up to three years, with the possibility of one-year incremental extensions, as long as the individual continues to meet the requirements. However, if you intend to stay for an extended period or settle permanently, a Green Card is a more suitable option.

Stability and Flexibility with a Green Card

The Green Card allows for a stable and long-term presence in the country, eliminating the need for frequent visa renewals and the uncertainty associated with temporary visas. This stability is particularly beneficial for those looking to establish and grow their businesses without the constant worry of visa expiration.

Family Considerations

Family Members on an O-1 Visa

When it comes to family, the Green Card offers significant advantages over the O-1 visa. While O-1 visa holders can bring their immediate family members to the U.S. on O-3 visas, these dependents cannot work. However, they may engage in part-time or full-time study without obtaining additional authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If you are interested in this topic, we encourage you to read more here: Complete Guide to O-3 Visa for Dependents: Documentation & Application Process.

Benefits for Family Members with a Green Card

With a Green Card, your family members can not only join you, but also work and enjoy other benefits such as access to education and healthcare. This can significantly enhance the quality of life for your family and provide greater opportunities for their personal and professional growth.

Family Members on an O-1 Visa

Tax Obligations

Tax Responsibilities on an O-1 Visa

One critical aspect to consider when transitioning from an O-1 visa to a Green Card is the change in tax obligations. As an O-1 visa holder, your tax responsibilities are generally limited to your U.S. income.

Worldwide Income Reporting with a Green Card

As a Green Card holder, you are considered a U.S. tax resident and must report and pay taxes on your worldwide income. This can be a significant change if you have income from outside the U.S.

To learn more about this, please visit the Internal Revenue Code website here

Consulting a Tax Advisor

It’s advisable to consult with a tax advisor before applying for a green card to understand the full implications of this change and to ensure you are compliant with all tax requirements. Proper planning can help mitigate any unexpected tax liabilities and optimize your financial situation.

Medical Requirements 

Medical Check-Ups for a Green Card

Applying for a Green Card involves meeting certain medical requirements, including vaccinations and a comprehensive medical examination. These requirements are more stringent compared to those for the O-1 visa.

Vaccination Requirements

It’s important to be prepared for this aspect of the application process. Ensure that you and your family members have all the necessary vaccinations and can complete the required medical check-ups.

You can find more information on this topic in our blog articles: Conquering the Green Card Medical Examination in 2023 and  Green Card Medical Examination.

Visa Application Process and Waiting Time

Steps to Transition from O-1 Visa to Green Card

The process of transitioning from an O-1 visa to a Green Card involves several steps, including filing the appropriate petitions and undergoing interviews.

Timeline and Documentation

The timeline for obtaining a Green Card can vary, often taking several months to over a year. It’s crucial to plan accordingly and ensure all documentation is correctly prepared to avoid delays.

Financial Considerations: O1 visa to Green Card

Costs Involved in Transitioning and Potential Financial Benefits

Transitioning from an O-1 visa to a Green Card requires careful financial planning due to the associated costs. These typically include application fees, legal fees for assistance with the complex paperwork and process, and medical examination expenses required for the Green Card application. While these initial costs can be substantial, it’s important to consider the long-term financial benefits that a Green Card offers.

Having a Green Card provides significant financial advantages that can outweigh the initial expenses. One key benefit is improved access to financial products and services in the United States. With a Green Card, you can more easily obtain credit cards, loans, and mortgages, which are often more difficult to secure with temporary visas like the O-1. This financial flexibility not only simplifies personal financial management but also supports business endeavors, such as securing financing for startup ventures or expanding existing enterprises.

Moreover, holding a Green Card enables you to make long-term investments in the U.S. This includes participating in retirement savings plans, investing in real estate, and engaging in other forms of wealth accumulation that are often restricted or complicated for non-permanent residents. These investment opportunities can contribute to financial security and growth over time, enhancing your overall financial stability and outlook.

While the initial transition costs are an important consideration, the potential financial benefits of obtaining a Green Card make it a strategic investment for individuals looking to establish roots and build a prosperous future in the United States. Planning ahead and understanding these financial implications can help you make informed decisions that align with your long-term goals and aspirations.

Employment and Business Opportunities

Employment Flexibility with a Green Card

A Green Card provides greater flexibility in terms of employment. Unlike the O-1 visa, which ties you to a specific employer, a Green Card allows you to change jobs and pursue different career opportunities without needing to reapply for a visa.

Additionally, certain Green Card categories, such as the EB-1A for individuals with extraordinary ability, allow for self-petitioning. This means that EB-1A green card applicants do not need a job offer or employer sponsorship to apply. You can petition for yourself based on your achievements and qualifications. This self-petitioning option provides even more freedom and control over your career, as you are not dependent on an employer to support your immigration process.

Whether you want to start your own business, switch employers, or explore different fields, a Green Card offers the flexibility and security to make these decisions without the constraints associated with visas that require you to work for a specific employer. 

Business Operations and Investments

For entrepreneurs, having a Green Card can simplify business operations and make it easier to seek funding, enter contracts, and expand your business. It also allows for greater freedom in managing and growing your enterprise.

Legal and U.S. Immigration Support

Importance of Legal Advice

Given the complexities of U.S. immigration law, it’s important to seek legal advice when considering going from an O-1 visa to a Green Card. An experienced immigration lawyer can guide you through the process, help you understand your options, and ensure all requirements are met.

Finding the Right Immigration Attorney

Ensure that you consult an immigration attorney with experience in handling O-1 visa to Green Card transitions, and who can provide personalized advice about visa categories based on your specific circumstances. 


Navigating the decision to transition from an O-1 visa to a Green Card as a startup founder or entrepreneur involves the careful consideration of numerous factors. Beyond the initial allure of the O-1 visa’s flexibility and expedited processing, the Green Card offers stability, expanded opportunities for family members, and the ability to pursue broader career paths without employer constraints. However, this transition also entails heightened tax responsibilities and rigorous application procedures, necessitating strategic planning and possibly professional advice. Ultimately, choosing to secure a Green Card aligns with long-term goals of stability, freedom, and enhanced personal and professional growth for both you and your family in the United States.

If you are interested in determining your eligibility for the O-1A or EB-1 A kindly complete this free brief screening, and our team of attorneys will carefully review your accomplishments.