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Only the most accomplished individuals are eligible for an O1 visa, but how do you actually obtain an O1 visa if you are eligible? The application process is complex, and the part of the process that people often worry about the most is the visa interview.
However, with proper preparation you can make the O1 visa interview a strength of your application. Read the following article for a detailed breakdown of the O1 visa application process and interview so you’re ready.
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The O1 visa is a work visa for highly accomplished individuals in a variety of specific fields.
There are two types of O1 visa, the O-1A and the O-1B. The O-1A visa is for individuals who possess “extraordinary abilities” in the fields of science, art, athletics, education, or business. The O-1B visa is for individuals who have proven “extraordinary achievement” in motion pictures or television.
Applicants must have a job offer in the U.S., and their visit must be for the purposes of employment in a field that they have demonstrated extraordinary abilities in.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate their extraordinary abilities to be eligible for the O-1 visa, and this can be done in a number of ways. You can present any of the following as proof of your abilities to the U.S. embassy:
To be eligible for an O1 visa, there are a number of documents that you must provide the US embassy upon applying. In addition to the usual documents required for US work visas, you must submit:
Applying for an O1 visa is similar to applying for other US work visas. Once you receive a job offer from an American employer begin the application process detailed in the following section.
The first step is getting your visa petition approved. Your employer will send the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant worker, along with documents proving that you meet the O1 visa requirements. These documents can include:
Your employer must submit these documents 45 days before you start working, and pay a $460 filing fee.
All individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa must submit a Form DS-160 detailing your personal information and the reason for your visit. Once you submit the form, you will receive a confirmation code.
Applying for an O1 visa also involves a $190 filing fee. There may be other fees involved, depending on your country of origin. You will also need to keep the receipts from your filing payments since they will be used later in the application process.
If you are older than 13, younger than 80, or applying for an O1 from outside the U.S., then you will probably have to complete an interview at the U.S. embassy with a consular official. Embassy interviews can have long wait times, so schedule your interview as soon as possible. Once your interview is scheduled, you will receive a confirmation letter that you must present at the interview.
Put together all of the O1 visa documents that you will need to prove your eligibility, achievements, job offer, and more. Any missing document may damage your prospects, so be careful that you include everything.
Make sure you are on time for your interview on the scheduled date, and answer all questions the consular officer asks you as truthfully as you can.
Individuals already in the U.S. on a visa applying for an O1 do not need to complete an O1 visa interview, since they have already been interviewed at a U.S. embassy. While most other O1 visa applicants must complete an interview, it is not a requirement for all applicants. Some O1 applicants are selected for an interview and some aren’t, typically depending on the amount of evidence and supporting documentation provided for the application.
You will be required to bring the following documents to your O1 visa interview:
At your O1 interview, the embassy will record your biometrics and you will have to pay any remaining fees.
One of the best ways to prepare for your O1 visa interview is to prepare answers for commonly asked questions. See some examples of the types of questions you can expect for your interview in the following section.
O1 visas are typically processed by the USCIS in two to three months. However, O1 applicants have the option of paying for faster processing. Premium processing costs $1,225, and your application will be processed within 15 days. You will receive an approval or denial notice once your application has been processed.
O1 visas are initially valid for a 3 year period. Once 3 years passes, O1 visa holders can extend their visa for 1 year an indefinite number of times. To be eligible for an extension, though, your employer must demonstrate to the USCIS that your employment is still needed.
Yes, you can transition from an O1 visa to a green card. O1 visa holders may be eligible for a Green Card for Extraordinary Abilities, or EB-1. Obtaining a green card requires a much more rigorous application process, though, and you will have to provide ample documentary evidence of your extraordinary abilities.
Yes, you can bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21 to the U.S on an O3 visa. Your family’s O3 visas will be valid for the same length as your O1 visa.
Now that you have all the information you need for your O1 visa interview, it’s time to prepare. If any of your answers are incorrect — intentionally or not — then your application is at risk of rejection. Practice with your spouse, and make sure your spouse is prepared as well if he/she must participate in the interview. If you’ve made it this far in the application process, then as long as your answers are truthful you have an excellent shot of obtaining an O1 visa.
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