Thinking about the H-1B Visa? How about the O-1 visa instead?


In 2016, USCIS (immigration) received about 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period. The government put these petitions into a lottery to choose 85,000 petitions in total to grant the H-1B visas (with 65,000 in the general-category cap and an extra 20,000 cap for advanced degrees). Considering the chances of getting an H-1B visa, it may be to your benefit to think of alternatives.

The O-1 visa is a possible alternative to the H-1B visa. Although not all H-1B applicants will qualify for O-1 Visa, some of them may. There are some misunderstandings that the O-1 Visa is only for people who won internationally recognized awards like the Nobel Prize. However, even businesspeople can obtain the O-1 visa. What’s required is that an applicant meet three of the eight points below. So you may qualify for an O-1 visa if you:

  • Received a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence in the field of endeavors;

  • Are a member of any associations which require outstanding achievements of their members as judged by recognized national or international experts;

  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about you which relates to your work in the field;

  • Participated on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization;

  • Made original scientific, scholarly or business-related contributions of major significance;

  • Authored scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;

  • Were employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or

  • Commanded a high salary or other remuneration for your services

O-1 has several advantages in comparison to the H-1B visa:

  • Time limit: It’s possible to receive an O-1 visa for three years and renew it indefinitely, but with an H-1B there’s a limit of seven years.

  • Timing of application: H-1B applications should be submitted by April 1st every year, but with O-1s they can be submitted based on the applicant’s schedule.

  • Visa Cap: H-1B have yearly caps of 65,000 (plus 20,000 for advanced degree holders), but O-1s do not have such a cap.

  • Premium processing: While both O-1s and H-1Bs have premium processing, politicians have considered ending premium processing for H-1Bs.

  • Green card: Like H-1Bs, it’s possible for O-1 Visa holders to apply for green cards through other visas.

For more information about the O-1 Visa please contact us.

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