O1 Visa Process

Learn About O1 Visa Application Process And O1 Visa Documents Checklist

Applying For O1 Visa

You cannot apply for O1 visa as an individual. A U.S. employer has to sponsor your O1 visa. To sponsor you, the employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the Form I-129O/P supplement, and supporting documentation. The petition is submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Service center with jurisdiction over the location of the job. Once the USCIS approves of the O1 visa petition, you may apply for the O1 visa at an American Consulate overseas.

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Check My Eligibility

A. Filing The O1 Petition

An O1 petition is filed on USCIS Form I-129, along with the I-129 O/P Supplement. Your O1 petition documents must include:

1. A written consultation with a peer group in your area of ability

2. A copy of any written contract between you and your employer, or summary of terms of the oral agreement under which you will be employed

3. Copies of evidence that the services to be performed either:

a. Primarily involve a specific scientific or educational project, conference, convention, lecture or exhibit sponsored by scientific or educational organizations or establishments, or

b. Consist of a specific business project that requires an extraordinary executive manager, or highly technical person due to complexity of the project

4. Evidence that you have received a major internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or copies evidencing at least three of the following:

a. Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor

b. Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements as judged by recognized international experts

c. Published material in professional or major trade publications or newspapers about you and your work in the field

d. Participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the field or an allied field

e. Original scientific or scholarly research contributions of major significance in the field

f. Authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media

g. Evidence that you command a high salary or other high remuneration for services

h. Evidence that you have performed in a leading or critical role for organization or establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

If you are overseas, the USCIS will notify the consulate nearest your Place of residence of the approval. You must take the O1 approval notice to the American Consulate to obtain the O1 visa. If you are already in the U.S., you can start working for your employer as soon as you receive the approval with change or extension of status.


B. O1 Visa Premium Processing

You may have your O1 petition adjudicated within 15 calendar days by applying for premium processing.

For an additional fee of US $1,225, the USCIS guarantees a prompt decision on your O1 petition. You will receive either an approval notice, a request for further evidence, a notice of intent to deny the petition, or a notice of investigation for fraud or misrepresentation within 15 calendar days from the date you applied for premium processing of your O1 visa. If it fails to respond within 15 calendar days, it will refund the $1,225 fee and continue to process the petition under the expedited process.


C. Applying For O1 Visa At An American Consulate

To apply for the O1 visa, you must furnish the original or a copy of the Notice of Action, Form I-797A or B (the approval notice forwarded to your employer when the petition is approved). Your visa application must include the following documents:

  1. DOS Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  2. A copy of your passport which is valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the U.S. and with at least one blank page
  3. Passport style photograph showing full face without head covering against a light background. You may wear a headdress if required by a religious order of which you are a member
  4. Other documents included in the O1 petition

Duration of Stay

There is no limit on the length of your stay in the U.S. You can stay for an unlimited period with one year extensions as long as you continue in the same position or activity for which you were granted O1 visa.

Note: If you terminate employment with the petitioning employer, you will immediately lose O1 status and if the employer dismisses you prior to the date authorized by USCIS, the employer is responsible for your return transportation to your last place of residence outside the U.S.


Spouses and Children

Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join you in the U.S. for the duration of your stay can apply for O3 visas.


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