At Legalpad, we’re experts at helping startup founders apply for O-1 work visas. We work with many people who have significant experience, education and accolades in their respective fields, making them a natural fit for the O-1 work visa. In another blog, we went over the criteria for applying for the O-1 and the process for determining eligibility. In it, we wrote that the key to securing an O-1 visa is proving that you possess extraordinary ability in your field. Driven by vision and a history of success, it’s no wonder why startup founders choose to pursue the O-1 work visa.
The disadvantage of this work visa is that it limits the length of time you can live and work in the U.S. If your O-1 visa is going to expire soon then it’s time to petition for your O-1 visa extension.
How to renew an O-1 visa: these visas are usually linked to the time period approved in your original petition. One section of the original petition requires that you provide evidence of the reason for your visit, as well as specific dates for how long your stay needs to be. No matter what you put in your original petition, the maximum O-1 visa duration is 3 years. If you still haven’t finished the project you came to accomplish, then an O-1 visa extension is your next step.
As they did with your original petition, your employer must file the extension on your behalf. Additionally, your employer will need to prove that the project you are working on is continuing beyond the timeline outlined in your approved visa. They’ll also need to prove that you are an integral part of the project and that it cannot continue without you. In addition to the steps your employer takes, you’ll need to prove your eligibility for an extension by meeting the following O-1 visa renewal requirements:
- Prove that you’re lawfully living and working in the U.S. on a valid visa.
- Show that your passport has remained valid throughout the entirety of your stay in the U.S.
- Show that you have adhered to the conditions of your visa.
We’ve clarified how to renew an O-1 visa, what the extension process entails, what the filing requirements are and what steps your employer must take. Now, let’s breakdown, step by step, how to properly submit your extension request:
- Your employer files the I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker on your behalf.
- You submit a copy of your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to the USCIS.
- Provide USCIS with any and all documentation defending your need to file an extension. This is handled by your employer, as it’s their responsibility to petition for the extension.
You should file your petition at least 45 days before the expiration date of your existing visa to give your extension time to be reviewed. This should help prevent your current visa from expiring while you wait for a response. Once your extension has been filed, you’ll receive an approval or denial as well as an explanation regarding the decision.
As always, we encourage you to reach out if you have any questions about filing an extension for your O-1 visa. Our team of experts will help you clarify options and next steps.