In order to file an O-1 petition, the prospective employee must be able to demonstrate to USCIS that they have achieved national or international recognition for their achievements in their field of endeavor. Substantial documentation must be evidenced in at least three of the following areas: proof of major awards or prizes; membership in associations that require outstanding achievements; published material about the individual; participation in panels or as a judge of the work of others in the field; scholarly, scientific or business contributions; authorship of scholarly articles; employment in an essential capacity for an organization that has a distinguished reputation; high remuneration; and any other suitable documentation.
How soon after filing an O-1 petition can I start to work?
Once all of the required documentation has been assembled, an O-1 petition can be filed with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the candidate’s prospective place of employment. Upon approval of the petition, the candidate may apply for an O-1 visa at a U.S. consular post abroad. If the candidate is already in the U.S. in another status, he or she may not begin to work until the O-1 petition and change of status to O-1 has been approved. If the candidate is already working pursuant to approved Practical Training he or she may continue to work for as long as his or her Employment Authorization Card (EAD) remains valid.
Processing times for the O-1 visa petition vary according to the availability of information needed to prepare the petition, government interruptions and backlogs at USCIS. These government-processing times are beyond the control of the company and lawyer. To view USCIS processing times, refer to the Government Processing Times link. Upon the approval of the visa petition a start date will be determined.
How do I extend my O-1 status?
Extensions of O-1 status should be filed during the six (6) month period prior to expiration of current stay. Extensions are generally granted in one-year increments. However, the employee’s qualifications and the employer’s continued need to employ an individual of extraordinary ability in the offered position must be established anew (and fully documented) with each extension application. An extension application must be filed prior to expiration of the current authorized stay; filing the extension will provide you with continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending. There may, however, be restrictions on international travel.
Upon approval of the petition extension, you will receive a new I-94 form that is attached to the bottom of the Notice of Approval. Keep this new Approval Notice, along with the I-94 issued to you upon your last entry, in your passport. Remember that you will need to apply for a new visa stamp the next time you travel, at a U.S. consular post abroad.
Your Human Resources/Immigration Department and your lawyer will track expiration dates as much as possible but will not assume responsibility for this function as I-94 expiration dates may vary from the expiration dates shown on the Notice of Approval for your nonimmigrant visa. You must keep track of the expiration date on your I-94 form and those of your family members.
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