O-1 VISA FAQs

General

Start-Ups

What are the different types of O-1 visa?

There are two types of O-1 visa: O-1A and O-1B. Both are non-immigrant visas that allow visa holders to perform temporary services for a U.S. employer or an agent of an international employer. O-1A is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. O-1B is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

Who can file the O-1 petition?

Only an employer is able to file an O-1 petition. There is no self-petition option for the O-1 classification. However, self-employment is possible. Self-employment in the O-1 category is available by using an agent petitioner or a beneficiary-owned entity as petitioner. This should not be confused with self-petitioning (which exists in the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW context).

Do you have to be in the United States to file an O-1 petition?

No. O-1 petitions can be filed for consular processing or for change of status. A change of status filing is available to persons who hold another classification in the US at the time of filing.

What are the filing fees?

There is a $460 I-129 filing fee.

Is there premium processing available?

Premium processing is optional and available for O-1 filings. Premium processing expedites the adjudication of the O-1 petition. USCIS must either approve or issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) notice within 15 calendar days of receiving the petition. Upon filing an RFE response, USCIS must issue its decision within 15 calendar days of response submission. There is a $1440 I-907 filing fee for premium processing requests.

What is the processing time for an O-1 Visa?

On average, USCIS takes 4 to 6 months to process the I-129. Premium processing can shorten the wait time to just 15 days. If you are outside the U.S., the consular processing time is indeterminate.

How long can I stay in the US in O-1?

The O-1 Visa is granted for an initial stay of three years; however, the Visa may be extended in one year increments for the duration of the foreign employee’s work in the United States. Unlike most of the temporary non-immigrant visas, there is no maximum length of stay in the U.S. for holders of the O-1 Visa.

Can I bring my family with me?

Yes. Spouses and children may accompany O-1 visa holders in the US in O-3 dependent status

Can my spouse work?

There is no employment authorization available to the dependents of O-1 visa holders.

Can I transfer my O-1 to another employer?

Sort of. There’s no actual “transfer” of an immigration classification from one petitioning employer to another. So, if you will be working for a new employer, you would still have to have a new O-1 petition approved before you can start working for that employer. Having said that, if you have an “Agent O-1” you may be able to use a single O-1 petition to cover an itinerary of services for different organizations.

Can I extend my O-1?

Yes, you can extend an O-1 in 1year increments for an unlimited number of times.

Can I work for a company other than my O-1 employer?

An O-1 approval only authorizes work with the petitioning employer. Any other employment requires a petition that provides authorization for the work. However, you can have multiple employers that petition you for concurrent O-1 work authorization. Additionally, if you have an “Agent O-1” you may be able to use a single O-1 petition to cover an itinerary of services for different organizations.

Can I pursue a green card while I am on an O-1 visa?

Yes. The O-1 is a quasi dual-intent visa which permits pursuit of the Green Card while on O-1. Please visit our Business Immigration page for more details.

Can I apply for an O-1 if I’m already in the U.S?

If you are in the U.S on a non-immigrant visa (e.g. H-1B), you can apply for an O-1 if you meet the requirements for the O-1 visa.

What happens to my O-1 if I’m laid off?

You have a grace period of 60 days or last date of authorized entry, whichever is shorter, during which you will continue to maintain your non-immigrant status. During this grace period, you can find another employer who can sponsor you for an O-1 or another non-immigrant visa (e.g. H1-B).

What published material meets the requirements for O-1?

Unlike the PR adage, there is no such thing as bad press, in the O-1 world, we are ideally looking for quality over quantity of press. Typically, national journals over local press are stronger; industry and trade journals can be used to distinguish expertise in a field. The petitioner may present: – Published material in professional or major trade publications – Authorship in scholarly articles in professional journals – Newspaper or magazine articles about the beneficiary and his work are also useful – Published reviews about the petitioner’s work

What type of office space should I have?

There are no specific requirements for office space for an O-1. You can work from home, your friend’s garage, or your living room sofa. Having said that, we typically recommend an office, especially if the goal is growth of the company.

How much funding or revenue is enough to file an Extraordinary Alien petition for a Start-Up founder or key employee?

There is no magic amount of funding or revenue required to support an Extraordinary Alien petition. Instead, the funding, for example, could be used as evidence of an award and/or support the case for the originality of the foreign national’s contribution. For example, even initial seed funding can be a critical aspect of establishing original contribution if it was given by a competitive incubator or a highly acclaimed angel investor

Can more than 1 co-founder file for O-1?

Absolutely. But it is also critical to establish the unique contributions of each co-founder. This can be challenging where there is a main individual serving as the face of the company and hence receives all of the press attention.

Who can I ask to be a reference?

References should come from individuals who are established in their own right and can speak to the original contributions you are making in your field. For start-ups this may be an investor, an advisor, a board member, a former employer, a significant customer, or even a competitor, among others. It is important to include information to demonstrate that the author of the letter is an expert in the beneficiary’s field, or similar field. You may want to include a CV, short biography, or LinkedIn profile. MPLG recommends quality over the quantity of references. We also recommend selecting experts from a variety of sources and, if possible, from different countries

How do you define the ‘field’ for a start-up founder?

In a competitive environment it is important to define the field such that you stand out. Thus, if you define the field too broadly, you may not stand out. However, if you define the field too narrowly it may not be too impressive to be at the top of the field of one. Thus, defining the field is as much art as it is science.