A J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to exchange visitors who are teachers, professors, research scholars, or people with specialized skills. One of the advantages of a J-1 visa is that you are allowed to change to another nonimmigrant visa if you wish to stay in the United States after your program has ended. The O-1 visa is one of the categories you can easily switch to. There are some distinct advantages to O-1 visa that make it an attractive option.
O-1 visas are for those individuals who demonstrate extraordinary ability in a number of different fields including academics, athletics, science, and the arts. One of the advantages of an O-1 visa is that you can apply for an unlimited number of extensions and potentially stay in the United States indefinitely as long as you continue to meet the criteria. Another advantage is that, unlike other work visas, there is no annual cap on the number of O-1 visas available. In addition, the O-1 visa allows your spouse and dependents to get their own visas and obtain work in the United States. It is also easier to apply for permanent residency as an O-1 visa holder through an EB-1 green card.
In order to obtain an O-1 visa it must be demonstrated that the individual has extraordinary ability in their field. This is demonstrated through evidence of great accomplishments such as a Nobel Prize or an Academy Award. It can also be shown with evidence of other achievements that distinguish an individual as being in the top of their field.
When you applied for your J-1 visa it was likely from your home country and was sponsored by your exchange program. With an O-1 visa you will need an employer or an agent to sponsor your visa. You will likely apply for a change the status while you are in the United States. Your employer will petition on your behalf. All evidence demonstrating that you meet the criteria of the visa will have to be submitted. It can be helpful to consult with an attorney to ensure that your application is complete.
If you are interested in applying for an O-1 visa, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, we have the experience to guide you through the process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.