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O1 Visa to Green Card: An Overview
The O1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa specifically designed for individuals who demonstrate extraordinary ability in various fields, such as the arts, business, science, education, or athletics. It is typically granted for a maximum of 3 years.
Unlike most US temporary work visas, the O1 visa offers holders the ability to apply for a Green Card because it is a dual intent visa. Having dual intent means visa holders can legally transition from a nonimmigrant temporary visa to permanent residency without impacting their immigration status.
This is significant because the eligibility criteria for most nonimmigrant visas typically require individuals to demonstrate their intent to stay in the US temporarily and leave upon expiration of the visa. But with an O1 visa, holders can have a second intent to obtain a green card and stay permanently in the country.
If you hold an O1 visa and are considering a long-term future in the U.S., you might be able to apply for a Green card. With a Green Card, you will not need to undergo the process of renewing your visa periodically.
You might also be able to naturalize as a U.S. citizen after 5 years on a Green Card.
- O1 Visa to Green Card: An Overview
- When Can You Apply for a Green Card Visa After O-1 Visa?
- Which Green Card Can You Get With an O1 Visa?
- What are the Requirements Needed to Change From O-1 Visa to Green Card?
- How to Apply for Green Card With an O-1 Visa
- What Happens After The Application?
- Family Members
- What Other Options are Available to go From O-1 Visa to Green Card?
- Multiple Filings For Green Card Applications
- How Long Does Changing Your Status From O-1 Visa to Green Card Take?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
When Can You Apply for a Green Card Visa After O-1 Visa?
There’s no restriction on how long an O1 visa holder can wait before applying for a U.S. Green Card. As such, you can apply immediately after receiving your O1 visa or after several years on it. However, you must meet the eligibility requirements for a Green Card before you can apply.
Which Green Card Can You Get With an O1 Visa?
There are different categories of Green Cards, including Employment-Based, Family-Based, and Longtime Resident. For O1 visa holders, the most suitable category to apply for is the Employment-Based Green Card.
This is because the initial O-1 visa application requires an employer to sponsor the individual. As such, it is logical to continue within the employment-based category when pursuing a Green Card.
There are also different categories within the employment-based visas, including the EB1 visa. The EB1 visa is the most appropriate route because it has similar eligibility criteria to the O-1 visa.
The various subcategories of the EB-1 visa include:
- EB-1A: Extraordinary ability
- EB-1B: Outstanding professors and researchers
- EB-1C: Multinational manager or executive
Since the O-1 visa is essentially a nonimmigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in a particular field, the EB-1 visa is its immigrant visa counterpart.
Most O-1 visa holders will likely meet the requirements for the EB-1A and EB-1B visa categories. Before applying, you should discuss your situation with a U.S. immigration lawyer who can help you determine the most appropriate visa option.
EB-1A Visa Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for an EB-1A visa, you must provide evidence of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This means demonstrating sustained national or international acclaim for your exceptional achievements and expertise in your field.
Your evidence must either include a one-time achievement, such as a Pulitzer, Oscar, or Olympic medal, or 3 out of 10 of the following:
- Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- Evidence of your membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members
- Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
- Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
- Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
- Evidence of your performance in a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
- Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration to others in the field
- Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts
Additionally, you must show evidence that you will continue to work in your field of expertise.
EB-1B Visa Eligibility Requirements
If you are applying for the EB-1 visa as a professor or researcher, you must meet the following criteria:
- Demonstrate international recognition for your achievements in your academic field.
- Have at least 3 years of teaching or research in that academic field
- Provide a letter of employment from a U.S. employer that has documented accomplishments and employs at least 3 full-time researchers
To demonstrate you are an outstanding professor or researcher, you must include 2 out of the following 6:
- Evidence of receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement
- Evidence of membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievement
- Evidence of published material in professional publications written by others about the noncitizen’s work in the academic field
- Evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field
- Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field
EB-1C Visa Eligibility Requirements
To switch to an EB-1C visa, you must have worked for at least one year abroad before you got the O-1 visa.
Also, your U.S.-based employer must have been in business for at least one year and have a qualifying relationship with the company you worked with abroad as a manager or executive. For instance, your employer can be a subsidiary or an affiliate of the company abroad.
Additionally, your employer must prove that they are hiring you in a managerial or executive role.
There are three ways to switch from an O-1 visa to a Green Card through the EB-1 visa category.
- Have an employer petition for you
- National interest waiver
With the self-petition method, you will not need an employer to sponsor you. This option is appropriate if you are applying for the EB-1A visa, which you can apply for yourself.
You can self-petition for the EB-1 visa by filing Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
If you are applying for the EB-1B or EB1C visas, you will need an employer to sponsor your petition. Your employer is responsible for filing Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
As part of the application, your employer must provide evidence that they have the ongoing financial capacity to pay the wage stated in the job offer from the priority date onwards. They can demonstrate this by submitting an annual report, federal income tax return, or audited financial statement.
National Interest Waiver
You can apply for a national interest waiver if you’d like to waive the employer petition requirement. To qualify for this type of application, you must prove that your work is in the best interest of the United States.
You must show evidence of an advanced degree or an exceptional ability. The USCIS will consider the following factors to determine if you qualify for a national interest waiver:
- Whether the proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.
- If you are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.
- If it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer.
If the USCIS approves your application, you will likely get an EB-2 visa instead of the EB-1 visa. The EB-2 visa is a second-preference employment-based visa for individuals with advanced degrees and exceptional ability.
What Happens After The Application?
If your application is successful, it is essential to immediately file for adjustment of status by submitting Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You must submit this form to USCIS, and once it is processed, you will be issued a Green Card, which will be mailed to you.
If your EB-1 Green Card is approved, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be able to apply for permanent residence. They can do so if they are already in the U.S. with you on the O-3 dependent visa or as a fresh application from outside the country.
While the EB-1 visas are the most appropriate category to apply for with an O-1 visa, there are other permanent residency options you can apply for. They include:
- EB-5 visa
- Family-based visa
EB-5 Visa for Investors
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa for investors. To switch from your O-1 to the EB-5 visa, you must be willing and able to:
- Invest in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
- Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
The commercial enterprise must be a new organization established after November 29, 1990. If the enterprise was established on or before November 29, 1990, your investment should be able to:
- Restructure the company into a new commercial enterprise
- Increase the number of workforce in the company.
- Lead to a 40% increase in the company’s net worth.
To apply for the EB-5 visa, you must file the following forms at different stages of the application process:
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor, or Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor
- File DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration or Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
You can also switch from an O-1 visa to a Green Card through the family-based route. To meet the eligibility criteria, you must be a family member of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
You can either be an immediate family member, including spouses, minor children, and parents, or distant family members classified under the “Family Preference” categories:
- First preference (F1) – unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of U.S. citizens;
- Second preference (F2A) – spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents;
- Second preference (F2B) – unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of lawful permanent residents;
- Third preference (F3) – married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
- Fourth preference (F4) – brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older).
To successfully apply, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Additionally, your family member under whom you’re applying must file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative on your behalf.
Multiple Filings For Green Card Applications
You can apply for multiple Green Card applications at the same time. You can make multiple filings for any of the categories under the EB-1 visa or a mix of employment or family-based visas if you qualify.
This allows you to explore multiple visa options concurrently and pursue the paths that align with your qualifications and immigration goals.
How Long Does Changing Your Status From O-1 Visa to Green Card Take?
The processing time varies based on the type of Green Card you are applying for and the workload and backlog at the USCIS office handling your case.
With employment-based visas, you can expect to receive a decision within 6 to 23 months. EB-1 visas particularly have a faster processing time than other employment-based visas, and EB-1A applicants may enjoy a speedier process than other subcategories, as they don’t have to wait for an employment offer.
Family-based visas typically take a longer time. Immediate family members, like spouses, can expect to receive a decision within one year. Whereas the family preference visas have yearly caps and can take from 1 year and, in rare cases, up to 10 years.
Yearly caps mean that for a visa category, only a specific number of people can get it yearly. Once the number is achieved for a particular year, The USCIS will move other applications to the following processing year.
The processing time can increase further if you do not complete the required documentation accurately.
Depending on your visa category, you can expedite the process by requesting a premium processing service, which ensures a decision within 15 days. You can do so by submitting Form I-907 along with an additional fee to USCIS.
How Can IAS Help?
At IAS, our U.S. immigration lawyers can assist you in transitioning from an O-1 visa to a Green Card. We will assess your case to determine the Green Card category you best qualify for.
Our lawyers will guide you through the complex process, ensuring all requirements are met, and documentation accurately prepared. From preparing and filing the necessary forms to providing ongoing support and representation, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the Green Card application process smoothly.
Last modified on October 26th, 2023 at 11:14 am
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The O-1 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa granted for an initial period of up to three years, with the possibility of extensions. On the other hand, a Green Card is a permanent resident card that allows individuals to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely.
Green Card holders enjoy certain benefits and rights, including the ability to travel in and out of the country freely, change employers as often as they want to, and be eligible for certain government programs and benefits.
Additionally, a Green Card offers a path to eventual citizenship, whereas O-1 visa holders can not get citizenship no matter how long they live in the country
The EB-1 visa is most appropriate to switch to because it is an employment-based visa like the O-1 visa, and the requirements for both categories are similar. Also, the EB-1 visa has a faster processing time than other Green Cards.
The processing fee for Form I-140 is $700, and an additional $2,500 is required for premium processing. To adjust your status from an O-1 visa after receiving I-140 approval, the processing fee for Form I-485 is $1,225.