How to apply for O1 visa?
In order to apply for O1 visa you must first go through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After USCIS approves your O1 visa application, then you can apply for an O1 visa stamp in your passport at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad if you are outside of the United States or you are travelling outside of the United States.
However, if you are in the United States, then you can request a change or extension of O1 status directly on your O1 visa application at the time of filing with USCIS.
One important aspect to keep in mind is that you can only apply for the O1 visa with USCIS and you cannot apply for O1 visa directly with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad without an approval notice from USCIS; the consular officer at any U.S. Consulate cannot adjudicate your O1 visa and stamp your passport without USCIS’s initial approval of your O1. Sponsorship through foreign-owned U.S. companies can also available for O1 visa in limited circumstances.
However, before you pursue and apply for O1 visa, you should understand the O1 visa and check to make sure you meet all the requirements.
The O1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa program of the United States government that allows talented individuals who have extraordinary ability or achievement in the field of business, science, arts, education, athletics, motion picture (film industry) or TV industry, to come and work in the US in their area of extraordinary ability. For detailed information about what is the O1 visa for USA and the O1 visa requirements you can click here.
The first step to apply for O1 visa is to file the O1 visa petition with USCIS
The first step to apply for O1 visa is to file the O1 application, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on Form I-129 with USCIS together with the necessary supporting documents and the supplement to Form I-129 for O1 visa. You can access the form here.
To apply for the O1 visa with USCIS you can use premium processing which is 15 calendar days or regular processing which can take couple of months.
In order to apply for O1 visa status with USCIS, a petitioner who is a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent, must file form I-129 on behalf of the foreign individual for an O1 visa.
The U.S. employer can be any type of business entity including sole proprietorships, corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs) or partnerships. The U.S. agent can be the actual employer of the foreign individual, the representative of both the employer and the foreign individual or a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent.
In addition, a foreign employer who authorize a U.S. agent to act on its behalf can also petition with USCIS for an O1 visa status. For example, a sponsoring U.S. agent to apply for O1 visa can be a person like a coach or a training group or in the case of a foreign employer acting through a U.S. agent it can a company such as Nike Europe acting as the sponsor of a foreign athlete who authorizes the coach in the United States to file an O1 visa application for the athlete with USCIS.
In other words, if you are a foreign individual with extraordinary ability or achievement in one the specified fields (business, arts, education, science, athletics, motion picture or TV industry), then you need a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or a foreign employer with a U.S. agent to apply for an O1 visa on your behalf. However, it is possible for these talented individuals to qualify to apply for an O1 visa with USCIS through their own companies.
Talented foreign individuals and entrepreneurs with extraordinary ability or achievement may be able to sponsor an O1 visa through their own U.S. companies.
In limited situations, talented foreign entrepreneurs who have extraordinary abilities or achievement and have the ability to invest capital in their own U.S. company may be able to self-petition for an O1 visa with USCIS through their own company. The sponsoring company, however, must be a real and operating business and not one set up to evade the U.S. immigration laws.
The U.S. employer or agent should apply for O1 visa on Form I-129 at least 45 calendar days prior to the start of employment but not more than 1 year before the start date. Moreover, in addition to filing Form I-129, the U.S. employer or agent must also submit with this form a number of required documents including evidence that the foreign individual has extraordinary ability or achievement in his or her field – business, arts, education, athletics, motion picture or TV industry.
The petitioner must include the following documents together with Form I-129:
- a consultation (written advisory opinion from a peer group, including labor organizations, or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability) or an exception to the consultation requirements
- a contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary
- an itinerary and
- evidence about the foreign national showing that he or she is eligible to apply for O1 visa.
While the list of evidence to show that the foreign individual meets the O1 criteria is long, the O1 visa does not require a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
A Labor Condition Application is not required from the Department of Labor to apply for O1 visa
The O1 visa application does not require a U.S. employer or agent to get an LCA from the Department of Labor when filing an O1 petition with USCIS. This simplifies and shortens the process to apply for an O1 visa by cutting the processing time by approximately 6 months while also removing the burden on the U.S. employer to file an LCA with the Department of Labor and get it approved as a prerequisite for the O1 visa application.
The second step is to apply for the O1 visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad and go for an interview, if USCIS approves the O1 visa petition.
If you are in the United States and requested a change or extension of O1 visa status when your U.S. employer or agent applied for the O1 visa with USCIS, then when USCIS approves your O1 status you will not need to apply for O1 visa at the US Consulate or Embassy abroad unless you are travelling outside of the United States or USCIS asked for you to have an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
However, if you are outside of the United States and USCIS approved the O1 visa application, then you can follow the second step and apply for the O1 visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country of residence. You can only use the O1 visa to apply for entry to the United States starting 10 days prior to the beginning of USCIS approved status period.
To apply for the O1 visa at the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad you must file form DS-160, pay the O1 visa fee, have a valid passport that expires in no less than 6 months, schedule a visa interview appointment and attend the in-person interview.
How can Malescu Law assist?
Our experienced business and immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA can assist with how to apply for O1 visa, case evaluation, planning and strategy and the O1 visa process. If you believe you may qualify for a business visa for the US, contact us today to discuss the US visa options for your circumstances.
Malescu Law P.A. – Immigration Lawyers