O-1 Visa to Green Card: Step-by-Step Guide
The O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities in science, business, education, art, film, or athletics. The O-1 visa is only approved for people who can demonstrate exceptional achievements in their field and are recognized nationally or internationally.
Individuals with an O-1 visa may live and work in the US for extended periods. However, an O-1 visa does not initiate a green card. There isn’t a limit to the number of times you can renew an O-1 visa, but it will not lead to permanent residence in the United States. Separately applying for a green card will allow you to stay in the US as a permanent resident.
Read on to learn how to go from an O-1 visa to a green card. If you have any questions, please contact us to speak with a professional immigration lawyer.
How to go From an O-1 Visa to Green Card
A green card allows nonimmigrants to reside and work legally in the United States indefinitely. Nonimmigrant O-1 visa holders can apply for a green card because of dual intent. To go from an O-1 visa to a green card, you must convert from a nonimmigrant classification to an immigrant classification.
You’ll need several documents to apply for the commonly used EB-2 green card category, including:
● A valid passport
● Job offer
● Approved PERM Labor Certification
● Approved I-140 Form
● Medical and vaccination documents
● Two US visa photos (at a minimum)
● Birth certificate
● Court and criminal records, if any
The Two-Step Process
Changing from an O-1 visa to a green card status is typically a two-step process. First, you must get an immigrant petition approved through USCIS. In most cases, you’ll be required to file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140) with USCIS. Once USCIS approves your petition, you can either file for an adjustment of status (within the US) or apply for an immigrant visa (outside the US).
Here’s a quick breakdown of both options.
Adjustment of Status:
Adjustment of status typically means going from a nonimmigrant classification to an immigrant classification. This process is done by filing your Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) with the USCIS.
You can only file for an adjustment of status if you’re lawfully present in the United States. For example, this is likely your best option if you’re in the US on an O-1 visa. You do not go to a consulate or embassy abroad for an adjustment of status.
You can file Form I-485 with your immigrant petition (Form I-140). However, this process can be confusing, and it’s recommended to work with an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you throughout the process.
Immigrant Visa Processing:
Immigrant visa processing or consular processing is when you apply for an immigrant visa at a United States embassy or consulate abroad. You may apply for consular processing after your petition is approved and a visa number is available. You must file the Immigrant Visa Electronic Application (Form DS-260) with the Department of State. After submitting Form DS-260, you will need to schedule a visa interview at a US consulate or embassy abroad. Visa interviews are scheduled in your home country. An immigrant visa will be affixed to your passport after a successful interview.
Good to Know:
Another option for O-1 visa holders to obtain a green card is through other types of visas closely related to work.
The EB-1A Visa: Similar to the O-1 visa, the EB-1A visa is an employment-based immigration visa for people with extraordinary abilities.
There are three primary requirements to qualify for an EB-1 visa:
● You must have an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, athletics, business, or education
● You must be coming to the United States to work in your field
● You must show that you will provide significant benefit to the US
National Interest Waiver (EB-2): A national interest waiver is another way to obtain a green card without an employer as the sponsor. You will not need a PERM Labor Certification. However, this kind of visa requires you to prove that your work is in the national interest.
How Long is the Process?
Going from an O-1 visa to green card status can take around 18 to 30 months. The processing time depends on such things as your application method and the workload at your service center.
When Can I Apply for a Green Card?
It’s best to apply for a green card while your O-1 visa is still valid. The O-1 visa is typically initially valid for three years but may be extended indefinitely.
Convert Your O-1 Visa to a Green Card with Alagiri Immigration Law Firm
The O-1 visa is an excellent option for skilled professionals who want to live and work in the US. If you’re considering residing in the United States long term, obtaining a green card is a must.
If you have any questions or need help converting from an O-1 visa to a green card, please get in touch today. We look forward to hearing from you.