O1 Visa to Green Card

O1 Visa to Green Card

The O1 visa is a non-immigrant visa classification reserved for highly skilled people in either the sciences, arts, business, education, athletics, or the motion picture or television industry. Because the O1 visa is a dual intent visa, many people want to eventually get their green card after getting the O1 visa. The basics for this process are outlined below.

 

Because the O1 visa is a non-immigrant classification, the first step to getting a green card after an O1 is to convert from the O1 nonimmigrant classification to an immigrant classification. Immigrant classifications someone could consider converting to include the EB1A, employer sponsorship, and EB5 for investors, among others.

 

1. EB1A

 

The most common option for O1 visa holders is to convert to an EB1A immigrant visa classification because this is a visa for people of extraordinary ability, and it has similar qualifications to the O1 visa. To qualify for an EB1A visa, you 1) must have an extraordinary ability; 2) must be coming to the US to work in your field of extraordinary ability, and 3) must show that you will provide a substantial benefit to the United States. Many applicants prefer the EB1A visa because you can self-petition for it, meaning you do not need to find an employer to file for you.

 

As mentioned above, the EB1A and O1 visa have similar qualifications, but this should not be confused with meaning that someone who holds an O1 visa will automatically qualify for the EB1A. For example, the EB1A requires that the applicant show they will provide a substantial benefit to the United States, while the O1 visa does not have this same requirement.

 

The process to go from the O1 visa to the EB1A visa to the green card will require first filing a Form I-140 and establishing that you are in fact a person of extraordinary ability. Then, once the I-140 is approved, you can file for an I-485 if you are in the United States, or you can go through consular processing from outside the United States.

 

2. Employer Sponsorship

 

Another option to go from an O1 visa to a green card is through employer sponsorship. This will require a US company to offer you a full-time job and get an approved labor certification through the Department of Labor. This step is required because the US company employer must show they made an attempt to hire a qualified US worker but were unable to do so. Additionally, the employer must be willing and able to pay you the prevailing wage for the position they are offering you. This means they cannot offer you less than the appropriate wage. Once the employer gets the approved labor certification, they will then file Form I-140 with USCIS either under the EB2 or EB3 visa categories. As with the EB1A mentioned above, once the I-140 is approved, you can file to adjust status with form I-485.

 

3. EB2 National Interest Waiver

 

The EB2 National Interest Waiver is very similar to the employer-sponsored visas discussed above, except that there is no requirement for a US employer to get an approved labor certification and file a petition on your behalf. It is a common option among O1 visa holders because the EB2 National Interest Waiver is for people who work in a field that has “substantial merit and national importance” and this is often the type of work that O1 visa holders perform. The requirements for the EB2 National Interest Waiver are as follows:

 

A. You must independently qualify for an EB2 visa as either an advanced degree professional or an individual with exceptional ability

B. The field you plan to work in must have substantial merit and national importance

C. You must be well-positioned to advance your field

D. You must show that it is in the national interest to waive the requirement that you have a US job offer and an approved labor certification

 

Then, to obtain an NIW Green Card, you must file, and receive approval of, an I-140 Immigrant Petition and an I-485 Adjustment of Status Application.

 

4. EB1B

 

Another route to convert your O1 visa to a green card is via the EB1B immigrant visa. This visa classification is reserved for outstanding professors and researchers and is an optimal choice for O1 visa holders who work in the education field or in the sciences. To qualify to change status to the EB1B visa, you must 1) be internationally recognized as being outstanding in your field, 2) have at least 3 years of experience teaching and/or doing research in your field, and 3) have a job offer to work in a teaching position or as a researcher. Some people prefer the EB1B visa because it allows a US employer to hire you without getting an approved labor certification (which is required for the EB2 and EB3 employer-sponsored visas mentioned above). Instead, the employer can hire you just by offering you a job. Then, you will need an approved I-140 and I-485 to receive your green card.

 

5. EB5 Visa for Investors

 

It is also possible for an O1 visa holder to change status to an EB5 visa for investors and then apply for a green card if you can invest at least $1 million in a US business and create 10 full-time jobs for US workers. It is also possible to qualify for an EB5 visa by only investing $800,000 if the business is located in an economically depressed area, known as a targeted employment area. The requirements for an EB5 visa, aside from the amount that is needed to invest, are that you 1) start your own business, 2) invest in an existing business, 3) purchase an existing business, or 4) invest in a regional center.

 

The application process for an EB5 visa requires that you file Form I-526 with USCIS and upon its approval, you can file to adjust status with Form I-485. Notably, through the EB5 to green card process, you will first become a conditional resident. After 2 years of conditional permanent residence, you must remove the conditions from your green card.

 

6. Family or Marriage-based Sponsorship

 

Finally, there is always an option to get a green card after an O1 visa by marriage or family relationship to a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Entering a legitimate marriage with a US citizen or lawful permanent resident may allow you to get a green card. Certain family relationships with US citizens and permanent residents also can confer immigration benefits (such as if your parents are US citizens). This process will require getting an approved I-130 and I-485 or approved I-130 and consular processing.

 

 

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My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.  If you have any questions, feel free to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.

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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

President of Ashoori Law

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped thousands of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.