O-1 Visa: Green Card Options
O Visa to a Green Card
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 extraordinary achievements in their field and are in the top of the field.
Individuals with an O-1 visa may live and work in the U.S. for extended periods. However, an O-1 visa does not initiate a green card. There is no 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 U.S. as a permanent resident.
Read on to learn how to go from an O visa to a green card. If you have any questions, please contact us to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer.
How to Go From an O Visa to a Green Card?
A green card allows noncitizens to reside and work legally in the United States indefinitely. To go from an O-1 work visa to lawful permanent residence, you must convert from a nonimmigrant classification to an immigrant classification
Three Common Routes
O-1 visa holders are talented individuals with extraordinary abilities who have the opportunity to excel in the United States. Many would like to go from the O visa to a green card to secure long-term residency and stability in the U.S.
There are several employment-based green card options, but here are three main routes to go from an O visa to a green card – the PERM Labor Certification Process, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver, and the EB-1A visa.
Understanding these pathways will provide clarity and insight to O visa holders seeking permanent residency in the U.S.
1. EB-2 PERM Labor Certification
The PERM Labor Certification Process is an employment-based route to obtaining a green card. It requires being sponsored by a U.S. employer who is seeking to fill a permanent, full-time position that cannot be filled by a qualified U.S. worker.
The employer must go through rigorous U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) processes to demonstrate that no willing, qualified, and available U.S. worker can perform the job offered to the O visa holder.
During the PERM process, the employer must actively recruit U.S. workers for the position and submit the application to the DOL. Once DOL certifies the PERM application, the the sponsoring company files the Form I-140 Immigrant Petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Upon approval, if the priority date is current, the individual can adjust status by filing the Form I-485, Adjustment of Status application to obtain a green card.
The PERM Labor Certification processing times are currently approximately 10 months.
EB-2 NIW and EB-1A: What is the Difference?
2. EB-2 National Interest Waiver
The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a faster pathway to go from an O-1 temporary work visa to a green card. It allows O visa holders to bypass the PERM Labor Certification Process, thereby, saving years off their green card processing time. It’s specifically designed for individuals who can demonstrate that their skills and achievements have merit and national importance.
To qualify for EB-2 NIW, the O visa holder must demonstrate the following:
(1) Work has Substantial of Merit and National Importance – The evaluation of national importance is not limited to geographic factors, as work from various locations can hold national importance. Economic impact is not obligatory for consideration.
(2) Favorable Applicant Qualities – USCIS will assess factors like education, skills, knowledge, prior successes in related endeavors, and future plans. Demonstrating the endeavor’s likelihood of success is not mandatory, but proving that the applicant is well-equipped to advance the proposed endeavor is crucial.
(3) Advantage to the U.S. – USCIS will weigh all factors, such as difficulty in securing a job offer or obtaining a Labor Certification, the country’s benefits from the foreign national’s contributions even with qualified U.S. worker, and the urgency of bypassing the LC process in deciding whether to approve the NIW petition.
The EB-2 NIW processing times are currently approximately 12 months.
3. EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Visa
The EB-1A visa, also known as the “Extraordinary Ability” visa, is also another faster route to obtain a green card. This is an employment-based immigrant visa route for individuals with extraordinary abilities in their respective fields. This category is suitable for individuals who have reached the pinnacle of their careers.
Transitioning from the O visa to an EB-1A green card offers a solid and streamlined path for eligible individuals. O visa holders, already recognized for their extraordinary abilities or achievements, have a unique advantage when seeking permanent residency.
This avenue caters more specifically to O visa holders because their extraordinary talents have already been established. Going from an O visa to a green card in the EB-1A visa category is smoother and more accessible because they are already well-positioned to demonstrate their qualifications.
The EB-1A visa processing times are currently approximately 22 months.
Form I-485, Adjustment of Status (AOS)
After your Form I-140 petition is approved, then you can file your AOS application once your priority date is current.
For any Form I-485 employment based green card application, you will need several documents to apply, including:
- A valid passport
- Approved I-140 Form
- Medical and vaccination documents
- Two US visa photos (at a minimum)
- Birth certificate
- Court and criminal records, if any
The Adjustment of Status (“AOS”) process is the last step in the green card process.
O-1 Visa to a Green Card: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can an O-1 Visa Holder File for a Green Card?
USCIS and the U.S. Department of State recognize the “dual intent” of the O-1 visa. A dual intent visa means that the visa permits both temporary and permanent intent.
USCIS has determined that filing a Form I-140 immigrant petition will not result in the denial of an O-1 or O-3 dependent. O-1 visa holders may come to the United States and, at the same time, lawfully seek to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
Prior to traveling outside the U.S., however, always consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
Q: What Are the Benefits of the NIW and EB-1A?
This visa has several highly significant benefits, including:
Self Petition: Unlike most employment-based visa categories, the NIW and EB-1A green card routes empower you to self-petition, without the need for an employer sponsorship or job offer.
Expedited Processing: The NIW visa category offers faster processing times compared to other employment-based visa categories, due to the exemption from the time-consuming PERM labor certification.
Bypass Labor Certification: The National Interest Waiver avoids the lengthy and burdensome labor certification process entirely. The U.S. Department of Labor regulations, including the required recruitment process, can be avoided.
Q: Can I Have Multiple Form I-140s?
You can pursue multiple routes for getting a green card. You can even have multiple approved Form I-140s, such as through the traditional EB-2, EB-1A Extraordinary Ability, or EB-1B visa categories. If you have multiple approvals, file your I-485 (Adjustment of Status) application for the I-140 with the most current priority date.
Q: Can I Expedite the Process?
You can expedite the Form I-140 by filing for Premium Processing.
With Premium Processing, USCIS will adjudicate your Form I-140 petition within two weeks.
The USCIS Premium Processing Fee is $2500.
How Can Alagiri Law Help?
Our experienced green card lawyer will guide you from the O visa to a green card. If you’re interested in learning whether you qualify for the EB-2 NIW or the EB-1A, it is critical to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
Call 650-383-4306 or click here to start your immigration journey today!