How to File for an O1 Visa Extension

Updated on August 14, 2023
At a Glance: An O1 visa is granted to individuals with extraordinary skills and talents who want to enter the U.S. temporarily. There are two categories: O-1A for business, education, science, or athletics, and O-1B for achievements in the television or motion picture industry. The visa lasts up to 3 years, with possible extensions. Family members and team members can also apply for O2 and O3 visas. It’s important to apply for extensions early, provide required documentation, and be aware of processing times. Personal loans, such as those offered by Stilt, can help finance the visa extension process.

The U.S. is a place of great opportunity. So much so that it attracts the top candidates in almost every field of business, science, arts, and sports. People from all over the world come here to put their extraordinary talents and skills on display by making use of an O1 visa.

Unfortunately, the O1 visa is only valid for a certain period of time. Many visa holders are unsure of how this can affect their plans in the U.S. if their project takes longer than planned. Below we take a look at how to extend your O1 visa, what it will cost and how you can finance your O1 visa extension with a personal loan from Stilt.

What is an O1 Visa?

O1 visas are given to people who possess extraordinary skills and talents to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis.

Your skills, talents, and achievements can fall into one of two groups if you want to apply for an O1 visa:

  1. Skills and talent in the fields of business, education, science, or athletics – then you can apply for an O-1A visa
  2. Extraordinary achievements in the television industry or in the motion picture, if you have been recognized on a national or international level – then you can apply for an O-1B visa

To qualify, your acclaim must have been sustained over a reasonable period of time.

Someone in the U.S. (your petitioner) will file a petition to apply for your O1 visa. This is usually your employer or agent. Their petition will include the reason for your visit.

How Long Does an O1 Visa Last?

The petition filed for your visa will contain evidence of the reason for your visit. It will also indicate the necessary length of your stay. Usually, your visa is linked to this time period, but the maximum validity of an O1 visa is 3 years. In special cases, you may be able to stay longer.

The O1 visa also has an additional grace period that takes some of the pressure off from moving in and out of America. You are allowed to enter 10 days before your project begins. You need to leave the U.S. within 10 days after your project ends.

Is There an O1 Visa Extension?

The reality is not everything always goes as planned and you might end up having to stay in the U.S. longer than your visa period. Fortunately, you can extend your O1 visa if you have a good reason.

The petitioner of your visa must apply for your O1 visa extension if you need it to be extended. They need to prove the project continues after your initial allotted three years (or the period which it was granted for). They may only apply for one year’s extension of your visa at a time. They also need to prove that you are an integral part of the project and that it can not continue without you.

O1 Visa Extension Requirements

If you want to extend your O1 visa, you will need to fulfill these requirements:

  • Legal admittance to the U.S. on a valid visa
  • You have kept the conditions of your visa and haven’t committed any crimes
  • Your passport has remained valid throughout your stay in the U.S.

How to File O1 Visa Extension

After you have proven your eligibility for the O1 visa extension you can apply for your extension by following these steps:

  • The petitioner (your agent/employer) files an I-129 for your visa extension
  • You submit a copy of your I-94 (arrival and departures record)
  • The petitioner needs to supply the reason for the extension application (for example an unexpected increase in the time needed for the completion of the project you’re engaged in)

How to File for Family and Team Members

If you want your family or other team members to accompany you to the U.S., you will also need to file a petition for them. These people include your spouse, children, or team members forming an integral part of your extraordinary skill or talent.

Direct family members need an O3 visa and team members need an O2 visa. O2 and O3 visas are granted to people based on the success of your O1 visa application.

You will need the following documents if you also need to file for an extension of the O2 and O3 visa:

  • Form I-539 (application to extend/change nonimmigrant status)
  • Add copies of the beneficiaries’ I-94 forms (arrival/departure records)
  • A statement from the agent/employer (petitioner) explaining why an extension is necessary

The extension of their visas will be determined by the approved extension of your visa.

When to Request an O1 Visa Extension

Your extension approval is not guaranteed. You need to give yourself the best chance of success by applying early and providing all the required information. The processing times of visa extensions may differ. So, you don’t want to apply too late and have your visa expire before your extension is approved. But, be careful to apply too early. O1 visa extensions are for unexpected changes in the project you are engaged in. The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) may suspect that you planned for an extension if you file for it too quickly. They will reject such extension applications. Spend at least 3 months in the U.S. before you apply for an extension.

O1 Visa Extension Processing Time

Generally, it is best if you apply for an O1 visa extension 45 days before the visa expires. You need enough time for the application to be considered. You don’t want your current visa to expire before your extension is granted.

What to Do If Your O1 Visa Extension is Approved

The USCIS will approve your extension by sending you a second I-94 that extends the date that you are expected to leave the U.S. Do not lose the first I-94 issued to you. You need to submit all I-94’s in your possession when you leave the U.S. Make backup copies of these documents and store the originals in a safe place.

What to Do If Your O1 Visa Extension is Denied

The USCIS will send you a notice informing you your application was denied. There is, unfortunately, no appeal available to failed applications. You need to make contact with an immigration attorney to find ways to gain access to the U.S. through other visas if you really need to extend your stay.

How to Get a Loan for O1 Visa Extension

Filing an O1 visa extension can be expensive. In 2017, the processing fee for an O1 visa extension was $460. If you need to extend your family’s visas, it is an additional $370 on top of that. This does not include the possible legal fees you might have to pay if you need the help of an immigration attorney.

If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for your extension applications, don’t stress. You can apply for a personal loan to help finance it. Personal loans are unsecured, so you don’t need to provide anything of value as security for the loan.

Not all lenders offer personal loans to visa holders, but you don’t have to worry. There are lenders like Stilt who specialize in providing loans to visa holders. You only need to comply with the basic eligibility criteria.

Here’s how it works.


You can apply online for your personal loan for an O1 visa extension. Stilt offers loans between $1,000 and $25,000. Submit all information required to give yourself the best chance of getting the best loan offer.

Get Approved

You will receive feedback within 24 hours of your application. Supply any additional information that is requested if they schedule a quick verification call. Once all the boxes are ticked, you will receive a promissory note with your loan offer. Sign and return the note if you want to accept the loan.

Start Repayment

The loan will reflect in your account about 2-3 business days of accepting the offer. Now you just need to set up your repayment method. Consider using autopay. This helps you pay on time every month by automatically deducting your monthly repayment from your account.

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Needing to extend an O1 visa can come as a surprise, especially if you did not plan for the additional cost. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about financing these extra expenses yourself. Get an O1 visa extension loan from Stilt and make sure your project in the U.S. is a raging success!

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.