O-1 Visa – Individuals With Extraordinary Ability

O-1 nonimmigrant status is for temporary workers who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, or education. It’s granted to individuals who have risen to the top of their fields. Here’s what you need to know about the O-1 visa.


If you’re considering O-1 sponsorship, you need to meet specific criteria defined by the USCIS, including evidence of major awards or outstanding achievements. This can be in the form of international awards or a combination of various forms of evidence.

  • Internationally recognized awards
  • Membership in associations requiring outstanding achievements
  • Published material about your work
  • Participation as a judge or contributions in your field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles
  • Employment by distinguished organizations
  • High salary or remuneration for services

In order to assess an international employee’s eligibility for O-1 sponsorship, the sponsoring department will need to provide ICS with the following information:

  1. Position title
  2. Offered salary
  3. CV
  4. Google Scholar Citation Report
  5. List of journals they have reviewed for and total number of articles reviewed

Types of Cases

Depending on your situation, you may fall into various categories:

Change of Status

If you’re already in the US in a valid nonimmigrant status, you can change to O-1 status.


O-1 status is initially granted for 3 years and can be extended in 1-year increments with no maximum limits.


If there are changes to your job responsibilities or location, an amended O-1 petition may be required.

Change of Employer

If you want to change your employer while in O-1 status, UF must file a petition for a change of employer with USCIS.

Consular Processing

If you are abroad, you can apply for an O-1 visa stamp at the US Consulate/Embassy.

Port of Entry/Pre-Flight Inspection (POE/PFI)

Upon entry, the international employee must provide the department a copy of their O-1 entry stamp and their electronic I-94. The department must forward copies of these documents to ICS.

Process & Timeline

Step 1: Department Submission
  • Department collects all required information and documents.
  • Initiates the case using the Fragomen Connect Portal.
Step 2: ICS Review (1-2 weeks)
  • ICS conducts a thorough review of the submitted information and documentation.
  • Any questions or clarifications needed will be communicated to the department.
  • Once the application is complete and accurate, ICS approves it and submits the questionnaire to Fragomen.
Step 3: Petition Preparation (2-3 weeks)
  • After ICS submission, Fragomen prepares the USCIS filing for the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
  • This includes gathering all supporting documents required for the petition.
  • ICS reviews the petition and, upon approval, signs it.
  • The petition is then sent back to Fragomen for filing with USCIS.

Please note that the duration of this step may vary, as Fragomen’s preparation depends on the specific start date and expiration date of the case.


There are various fees associated with the O-1 visa:

  • USCIS filing fees: These are required and include the O-1 filing fee.
  • Premium Processing (PPS) fee: This fee is required for new UF O-1 petitions.
  • Fragomen legal fees: The cost for case processing depends on the type of O-1 petition.

O-1 Visa FAQs

How long can an international employee be in an O-1 status?

The O-1 status is initially requested for 3 years and can be extended in 1-year increments with no maximum limits.

How soon after filing an O-1 petition can an international employee start to work?

Change of Status: An international employee can begin working on O-1 status once the department has the approval notice and the start date has occurred. If the international employee is currently working at UF under another status (J-1 or F-1 OPT), they can continue to work under that status until the O-1 status is approved or until that other status ends, whichever occurs FIRST.

Consulate Processing: If the international employee is outside the United States, they may not begin their employment until they have obtained an O-1 visa stamp in their passport and have been admitted to the U.S. in O-1 status.

Change of Employer: UF must file a petition for a change of employer with USCIS. The international employee can begin working at UF once the department has the approval notice in hand and the start date as occurred.

The international employee must maintain their current O-1 employment to be eligible for an O-1 transfer.

However, there is a 60-day grace period for those whose employment is terminated prior to their O-1 expiration date, which will enable them to extend, change or otherwise maintain status or prepare to depart the United States. We would advise there be no gap in employment to be safe. The 60-day grace period can be less depending on the O-1 expiration date. It is a 60-day grace period OR the date the O-1 actually expires – whichever comes first.

Amendment: If the international employee is changing employment conditions, they may begin work once Fragomen submits the petition to USCIS, and the requested start date has occurred.

What if the international employee’s job responsibilities change or they have to switch from one job location to another?

If the international employee has a material change in job responsibilities or a change in location outside of their geographical area, UF will need to file an amended O-1 petition on their behalf. Any change in job location or job duties should be brought to the attention of their department liaison before accepting the change in employment. The amendment will need to be filed with USCIS prior to any changes in the international employee’s employment. They can begin the new working conditions once the petition is submitted to USCIS and the requested start date has occurred.

How is O-1 status extended?

O-1 extensions can be filed with USCIS up to 6 months before the expiration date of the current O-1 status. If an extension application is filed before the current authorized stay expires, the international employee may be eligible for continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending.

Can an international employee continue working if their O-1 Extension has not been approved by the time the current O-1 expires?

If an extension application is filed before the current authorized stay expires, the international employee may be eligible for continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending.

How does an international employee or department check the status of a case after it has been filed with USCIS?

Check the case status using USCIS’s online Case Status tool. Case Status Online

When will the international employee receive their I-797 Approval Notice?

Once USCIS approves the international employee’s petition, they will forward the I-797 Approval Notice to Fragomen. Please note that it can take several days to weeks for USCIS to mail the approval notice to Fragomen. Once Fragomen receives the approval notice, they will prepare an approval packet and send it to ICS via FedEx. Once received, ICS will notify the department to pick up the original approval notice. The department will then forward the approval notice to the international employee.

When should the department request the filing fee checks?

Since checks are only valid for 6 months, please request the checks no earlier than 6 months prior to the desired start date.

Who are the filing fee checks made out to?

The filing fee checks should be made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The O-1 extension petition is filed under regular processing. Can an international employee travel internationally?

After the current O-1 expiration date, an international employee can only travel abroad and re-enter the U.S. after they receive the O-1 extension approval notice. UF may file the O-1 Extension under Regular Filing because premium processing is not needed for extension cases. The international employee can continue employment for up to 240 days while their extension petition is pending. It takes at least 8 months for Fragomen to receive the approval notice from USCIS under regular processing. In addition, the O-1 Petition can be filed no earlier than 6 months before the requested start date.

There is a possibility of upgrading the petition to include Premium Processing. The department must pay this fee ($2,500) if it is needed for employment purposes, such as work-related travel. Otherwise, the international employee can pay this fee for personal reasons. There would be legal fees for upgrading the petition as well.

Can an international employee get paid for outside conferences and complete work outside of their O-1?

An O-1 employee is not permitted to accept payment for any activity or services rendered outside of the approved O-1. They are permitted to receive reimbursement for travel expenses and living expenses associated with an activity. The international employee should keep a list detailing the expenses and how the money was applied in case they must prove that 100% of the funds went towards travel and associated expenses related to this outside activity.

Can an international employee pursue green card while on O-1?

While on O-1 status, an international employee must have the intent to depart the US. There is no dual intent while in O-1 status. Applying for permanent residency while on O-1 status can lead to problems when trying to extend O-1 status or when traveling outside the US.

Can an O-3 dependent work?

No, O-3 dependents are not eligible for work authorization.

Can an O-3 dependent volunteer?

It depends. An O-3 cannot volunteer for a for-profit company. They can volunteer for a nonprofit or local organization, as long as the work is similar to volunteering and not otherwise paid. O-3s cannot volunteer at UF.

Can an O-3 dependent attend school?

Yes, O-3 dependents may attend school.

How long can a dependent child be in O-3 status?

An unmarried child can be in O-3 status as long as they are under the age of 21 and their parent is maintaining O-1 status.