Want to transfer O-1 Visa to Green Card? Here is everything you must know about converting your O-1 Visa to Green Card
The O-1 visa permits foreigners who are highly skilled to work and live in the United States of America (USA) for long periods. The O-1 visa holders have a greater advantage compared to most of the temporary work visa holders to the US as this visa permits its holder to apply for a Green Card.
Read: Can We Expect 9 Million Skilled Job Vacancies In The USA?
What Is An O-1 Visa?
The O-1 is a non-immigrant visa that allows a foreign national to stay and work in the USA for 3 years. The work these visa holders do will be in their particular area of expertise. You are allowed to renew this visa as many times as you want. However, permanent residency is not permitted under the O-1 visa.
The O-1 visa has a great advantage attached to it. This is a dual intent visa. This means this visa permits its holders to apply for a Green Card in the USA.
Read: The US Family Based Green Card – Everything You Must Know
Dual Intent Visa – What Do You Mean By It?
The O-1 visa falls under the dual intent visa category. This means you won’t face penalty charges while applying for a Green Card in the USA while you are under this visa.
This is a non-immigrant visa and in general, you are not allowed to apply for a green card while under a non-immigrant visa. To get a non-immigrant visa you must give enough proof regarding your intention to leave the USA once your visa term expires. The proof may be anything like having a residence of your own in your home country.
This visa acts as proof of your intention to stay in the USA permanently while you are on a temporary visa status. You have the right to apply for a visa status change without actually affecting your status as a non-immigrant.
O-1 Visa To Green Card – The Type Of Green Card To Apply For With An O-1 Visa
Green Cards to the USA come in different categories.
- Family-Based Green Cards
- Employment-Based Green Cards
- Diversity Visa
The Employment-Based Green Card is the better choice if you are an O-1 visa holder. An employer in the USA has to sponsor you when you first apply for an O-1 visa. So you should choose the Employment-Based category when you’ve decided to change your O-1 visa status to Green Card.
The Employment-Based Green Cards have different types of visas under them. One such visa is the EB-1 visa. This is a Green Card given to those people with outstanding achievements and extraordinary skills. This green card is for outstanding professionals like:
- Executive managers (Working in the international branch of a USA based company for the past 3 years)
This green card is also issued to extraordinarily talented people in the field of:
The O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued for outstanding achievements and it would make sense to opt for the EB-1 visa while deciding to apply for a green card.
EB-1 Visa Classifications
The EB-1 visa is further classified into the following.
- EB-1 A: For Extraordinary Skills And Abilities
- EB-1 B: For researchers and professors who are outstanding in their field
- EB-1 C: For an executive/manager working for a multinational company (Based in the USA)
When transferring your O-1 Visa to EB-1 Visa most of the applicants opt for the EB-1A category (Green Card)
Converting Your O-1 Visa To EB-1A
The EB-1A visa is issued to international workers with outstanding accomplishments and extraordinary skills and abilities. To qualify for this category of Green Card you need to complete two different tests.
Preliminary Test (Objective)
To qualify for this test you must submit proof that you’ve been awarded a Nobel Prize or you’ve won an Olympic medal or you need to satisfy at least 3 among the requirements given below (extraordinarily talented in your field).
- Published material in mainstream media, trade/professional publications regarding your extraordinary skills/talents and outstanding performances
- Proof of having received awards for excellence or internationally/nationally recognized prizes.
- Proof of having been asked to judge the work of other people either on a panel or individually
- Membership in clubs/associations that demands exceptional accomplishments by their members
- Certificates/proof of having exhibited your work at showcases/exhibitions
- Proof of your major contributions in the fields of education, science, arts, athletics, or business
- Proof of your role as a leader/critic in internationally acclaimed organizations
- Proof of authorship of educational articles published in major business publications/ professional publications
- Evidence proving that you are a commercially successful performing artist
- Drawing A Top Level Salary Compared To All Others In Your Specific Field
Determination Of Final Merits (Subjective)
This test is to assess you are one of those highly accomplished professionals in your field.
- You are “one of that small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”
- You are the recipient of “sustained national or international acclaims”
- You are a person whose “achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.”
To make a compelling petition you must define your area of specialism as quite narrow yet without any compromise on credibility. You should also be able to provide enough proof of your top-level position in your area of specialization.
Besides, you must convince the authorities on how your work can be remarkably beneficial to the USA.
O-1 Visa To Green Card – Applying For Green Card Using Your O-1 Visa Status
Once you’ve successfully met all the requirements for eligibility you can apply for your Green Card. There are three ways by which you can do so.
Petition Through Your Employer
You need to get an employer who is willing to file a petition on your behalf for the EB-1 visa.
- File your petition using Form I-140
- Immigrant Petition For Alien Worker
- An employer needs to acquire labor certification approved by the Department of Labor
- The certificate states that the company was unable to find a US worker for that job
- Attach all the required supporting documents
- Pay the prescribed fee
- The petition will be processed by the USCIS
- If approved they’ll forward it to the NVC (National Visa Center)
- NVC cross-checks and confirms all documents are in order and wait for your priority date
- Once your priority date becomes current you’ll be invited to the US Embassy by the NVC
- At this stage Form I-485 needs to be filed with the USCIS
- This should be done in the USA to change your nonimmigrant status to immigrant status
- You can also choose to file both Form I-140 and Form I-485 simultaneously (to save time)
Petition By Yourself
You can choose to self-petition for this visa as the USCIS permits applicants to do so.
- You do not require the sponsorship of your employer
- You can change your status to the EB-1 visa by continuing in the same job
- You need to file Form I-140 with the USCIS
- The remaining steps are same as the petitioning through your employer
National Interest Waiver
Another way to apply for a Green Card through an O-1 visa is by proving that your work and achievements are of national interest to the USA.
- You need to prove to the USCIS that your achievements are of “substantial intrinsic merit”
- Convince the authorities that waving your employer petition/labor certification is in the national interest of the USA
- Once approved you’ll be granted an EB-2 visa under this category
What If You Are Filing For Your Green Card From Another Country?
In case you are applying from another country you need to follow the steps given below.
- File for a Green Card at the US Consulate within your country
- You need to file Form DS-260 along with all the required supporting evidence
- DS-260 is the Immigrant Visa Electronic Application
- Attend the interview for Green Card at the US Embassy or the US Consulate in your country
Read: H1B Visa Process Of Selection To Be Amended
Processing Time For O-1 Visa To Green Card
The processing time required for EB-1 visa applications is anywhere between 6-12 months in general. However, certain factors could further delay the time required. These include:
- Service disruptions due to the pandemic
- Issues with the filed petition
- Overload of cases with the USCIS
You can also check the availability of premium processing while filing your application for an EB-1 visa. Once your Green Card (EB-1 visa) has been approved you can legally reside in the US permanently. No longer do you have to keep applying for O-1 visa extensions. Green Card will also give you access to home financing, better education, and can choose to apply for citizenship in the USA after five years.
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