Even with all the planning, paperwork and effort that comes with petitioning for a work visa in the U.S., the hardest part is arguably waiting for a response. But imagine how you’ll feel when the wait is over and you have your O-1 visa approval. All the hard work has paid off, and you now have the opportunity to work and build your dream in the U.S.
It’s normal to feel unclear about what comes after approval. To begin answering that question, we must first focus on where you are in the world. If you are already in the U.S. on another visa, then you simply need to apply for a “change of status” - which we cover in some detail here. However, if you petitioned and got approval for an O-1 work visa while residing in your home country, then you would need to apply for that nonimmigrant visa through your country’s U.S. embassy or consulate.
You can begin this process by filling out and submitting Form DS-160, the Online Visa Processing Form. After submission, you will need to schedule an appointment for an in-person interview through your country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. To be properly prepared for the interview, be sure to bring a printed copy of your Online Visa Processing Form, along with any other relevant documentation that is requested when you schedule your interview.
For the O-1 visa, after approval, it’s important to stay up to date on details like issuance, validity, and international travel.
The validity of your O-1 status remains intact until the “end validity date” marked on your I-94 card. Because the status of your O-1 visa is tied to your employment, if your employment is terminated, your O-1 status would be invalidated. If that happens, there is a 60-day grace period to find another employer or change to a different visa status. This provides time to figure out your next move. During this period, you will need to find another employer to sponsor a petition on your behalf - otherwise, you’ll need to leave the U.S. once your status expires. If you obtain a change of status or extension of stay then you will not have to travel outside the U.S. to reapply for your O-1 work visa. If your O-1 petition has been approved for consular notification, then you will not receive an I-94 card at the bottom of your I-797 approval notice. You will need to apply for your O-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before your O-1 status can be activated.
If you want to travel on your O-1 visa after approval, you need to submit the following documents to USCIS upon your return to the U.S.:
- Supply a copy of your Notice of Action (Form I-797), which was the original notice of receipt you received from USCIS when your O-1 visa was initially approved.
- Show proof of a valid O-1 visa stamp in your passport.
- Supply a copy of your current employment letter, which proves your status as an O-1 work visa holder for your sponsoring employer.
- Show proof of a valid passport.
Sometimes after an individual receives approval of their O-1 visa, they consider pursuing permanent residency through a green card. If this interests you, this blog post addresses the subject.
Getting approval for your O-1 visa is a big step, but it’s important to keep in mind that your immigration journey doesn’t end there. It’s always wise to understand what is required to maintain your approval, as well as knowing what other opportunities are available to you with an approved O-1 work visa. No matter where you are in the process, we encourage you to reach out.
You can also visit our post-approval resource center for more information.