This classification is available to individuals who, through their original significant contributions to the field, have achieved a level of national or international recognition and are coming to the U.S. temporarily to work in their field on a specific project or set of projects as defined in the petition filed by the sponsoring institution. This classification can be useful alternative to an H-1B for individuals who meet the eligibility requirements and who previously held J-1 status and are still subject to a two-year home residency requirement.

Three things must be clearly established in this petition:

  • The nature of the project/work and the terms of employment in which the individual will be engaged
  • The individual is internationally recognized in his/her field, as evidenced by letters in support of the petition
  • The individual has received a major international award for achievement in his/her field, such as the Nobel prize or something appropriate for the field, or in the absence of such an award, can document his/her achievement as described below. 

Limits on Duration of O-1 status

There is no total limit on how long an individual can hold O-1 status. The length of the project for which the individual has been sponsored determines overall length of stay. However, petitions submitted by the employer can only be for the following timeframes:

  • Initial petition: can be for any period of time up to three years
  • Extensions: can be only for one year at a time

Petitions for individuals can be filed up to one year before the start date requested.

Cost and Timeframes

Base Cost of filing an O-1 petition: $460.

It can take USCIS a few months to adjudicate this type of petition.

Premium Processing: The total cost for filing the premium processing request along with the O-1 petition is $1,225.

Premium processing decisions are usually rendered within 15 days.