The O1 visa is reserved for people with an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, athletics, motion picture industry, or television industry. If you satisfy the requirements for an O1 visa, it can be a powerful option for you to live and work in the United States. If you qualify for an O1 visa, you can also obtain immigration benefits for your assistant, your spouse, and your children under 21 years old.
In this guide, I’m going to discuss the O1 visa fees. I’m going to discuss the different fees that you should anticipate when applying for your O1 visa. If you have any questions about anything discussed in this guide, or if you need help getting an O1 visa, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.
- Quick explanation of O1 visa
- O1 visa process
- USCIS Filing Fee (Form I-129)
- Premium Processing Fee
- O1 Visa Application Fee
- Immigration Lawyer Fee
1. Quick Explanation of the O1 Visa
The O1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for people with an extraordinary ability. The O1 visa is separated into 2 categories: O1A and O1B. The O1A visa is for people with an extraordinary ability in either the sciences, business, athletics, or education. The O1B visa is for people with an extraordinary ability in the arts, television industry, or motion picture industry. The definition of what qualifies as extraordinary ability depends on whether you are applying under the O1A or O1B category.
The O1 visa is a non-immigrant classification so it is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card. However, the O1 visa can be extended over and over. There is no limit to the number of times an O1 visa can be extended.
The O1 visa is not eligible for self-petition. To qualify for an O1 visa, you must have a US company or US agent that will sponsor you.
To get an O1 visa, there are 6 main requirements:
- You must have an extraordinary ability
- You must have sustained your excellence over the years (sustained national or international acclaim)
- You must be coming to the US to work in your field of extraordinary ability
- You must have a US company or US agent sponsor your O1 petition
- Your proposed employment in the US must qualify as an “event” as defined by the regulations
- You must have an advisory opinion issued by a peer group, labor organization, or management organization.
2. O1 Visa Process
The O1 visa process will depend on whether you are doing a change of status or if you will be applying for an O1 visa.
Change of Status to O1
A change of status is when you change from one non-immigrant status to another non-immigrant status. In order to do a change of status, at the time you file your O1 petition, you must be lawfully present in the US in a valid non-immigrant status. A change of status is done entirely in the United States (you are not required to leave the US during the whole process). To do a change of status to O1, you are required to file a Form I-129 with USCIS. Once the Form I-129 is approved, your status is changed to O1 status. It is important to note that O1 status is not the same as an O1 visa. O1 status does not permit travel outside of the US, the same way a visa would. If you leave the US while on O1 status (without an O1 visa), you will lose your O1 status. There are limited exceptions to this.
If your spouse and children will be applying for a change of status to O3 status (dependents of O1), they will need to file a Form I-539.
Applying for an O1 Visa
To apply for an O1 visa, you are first required to submit a Form I-129 with USCIS. Once the Form I-129 is approved, you would then apply for an O1 visa by filing a Form DS-160 with the Department of State. You would then need to attend a visa interview at a US consulate or embassy in your home country. Upon successful completion of your visa interview, you should receive your O1 visa within about a week. With an O1 visa, you can travel outside of the US and use your O1 visa to reenter the US (pursuant to the terms of your O1 visa).
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of the O1 visa and the O1 visa process, lets discuss each of the O1 visa fees that you should know about.
3. USCIS Filing Fee (Form I-129)
Whether you are doing a change of status, an extension of status, or applying for an O1 visa, you are required to file a Form I-129 with USCIS. The filing fee for a Form I-129 is $460.
If you spouse and/or children are applying for a change of status to O3 (as dependents to your O1), or if they are applying for an extension of their O3 status, then they will need to file a Form I-539. The filing fee for a Form I-539 is $370.
4. Premium Processing Fee
The Form I-129 for an O1 visa takes about 3 to 6 months for USCIS to process. If you would like to speed up the process, USCIS offers an optional premium processing service. With premium processing USCIS will review your Form I-129 within 15 days. The USCIS fee for premium processing is an additional $1,225 (in addition to the standard $460).
With premium processing, USCIS is not required to approve or deny your case within the 15-day window. If USCIS requires additional information to process your case, they can issue a request for additional evidence (RFE). If USCIS issues an RFE, once you issue a response to the RFE, they are no longer required to review and respond within the 15-day window.
5. O1 Visa Application Fee
If you are applying for an O1 visa, you and each of your dependents are required to file a Form DS-160 with the Department of State. The DS-160 fee is $190 for each applicant. You are not required to file a DS-160 if you are doing a change of status or an extension of status.
6. Immigration Lawyer Fee
The immigration lawyer fee is the legal fee your immigration lawyer will charge to prepare and file your O1 visa application. Each lawyer will charge a different fee depending on their skill level, experience, and billing practices.
Immigration lawyers typically bill on either a flat-fee or an hourly basis. Working with a lawyer who bills on a flat-fee has many advantages. For one, you will know exactly how much your case will cost at the start. Conversely, working with an immigration lawyer who bills on an hourly basis may leave you not knowing how much your total fees will be until the very end of the process.
The O1 visa is a great option to live and work in the US for extended periods of time. You should now have a much clearer understanding of the necessary O1 visa fees, the O1 visa process, and the basic requirements to get an O1 visa. If you need help applying for your O1 visa, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I would be happy to help you.