How to Obtain your O-1 Visa

There are very few scenarios where someone seeking O-1 status would already be in the United States (and thus using a Change of Status petition). In most situations the alien will need to obtain their O-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. While the USCIS may have approved their O petition, they will need a valid visa stamp on their passport in order to be allowed entry when they arrive in the United States. Once their O Petition has been approved, the alien beneficiary may apply for an O-1 Visa at a U.S. consulate in their home country, or certain third countries.

The documents and information needed when the alien is applying for an O-1 visa are:

  1. Form DS-156 (non-immigrant visa application);

  2. Passport of the applicant;

  3. A recent photograph meeting  the Department of State requirements;

  4. Visa application fee ($325.00);

  5. Approval Notice (Form I-797) of the O Petition and a full copy of the O Petition including all supporting documentation.

Once the Consular Office has received a visa application, they will notify the beneficiary when it is time for an interview to take place. The beneficiary will then schedule their applicant interview at the U.S. consulate, where it will be determined if the beneficiary is eligible for an O-1 visa. After being granted their visa, the alien will get a stamp on their passport which they must present unopened upon their arrival in the United States. Customs and Border Protection at the border or port of entry will then, if they so choose, admit the alien to the United States on their O-1 non-immigrant status.

In some circumstances an alien may be allowed to obtain their O-1 visa from a U.S. consulate in certain third countries, not their home country or last country of residence. This is known as the Third Country Visa process and it can be beneficial to all non-immigrants. Obtaining visas from the U.S. consulates in Mexico or Canada can sometimes be more convenient than doing so at the U.S. consulate in the applicant’s home country. Most aliens who have never been out of status are eligible to apply for a third country visa. For more information on this topic, please click here.

(Updated 10/10/2012 by AG)

For more information on the O-1 visa, please click one of the following links: