Duration and Extension of O-1 Status

The initial maximum amount of authorized stay on an initial O visa is technically three years.  However, the length of the status is determined by the length of time needed for the alien to perform his duties or activities with the petitioning employer. The USCIS will determine, based on evidence of the work related event or activity, how long O status will be granted to the beneficiary. The alien may thereafter be admitted to the United States up to 10 days before the validity period granted by their status begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. This period may be extended at one-year increments thereafter, upon evidence showing that the alien's continued presence would be required to complete the event or activity for which they were admitted.

A new consultation and advisory opinion from an authorized peer groupis not required in order to be granted an extension of O status. The petitioning employer needs to only provide a statement explaining the reason for the extension request along with their application. An O petition and/or extension of status by a new employer or for a new position by the same employer is considered a new event, therefore the alien may be approved for a new, 3 year O status.

The documents necessary for an O-1 extension of stay petition are:

  1. Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker

  2. A copy of the beneficiary’s Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record

  3. A statement from the petitioner explaining the reason for the extension

The beneficiary’s spouse and children must also file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status and submit any supporting documents necessary to extend their stay.

Please note that there is no appeal process for a decision by the USCIS to deny an extension of stay petition to an O-1 alien.

What Qualifies as an Event or Activity?

Considering that an O status petition may only be granted or extended for the time period required for a work related event or activity, it is important to understand what the definition of those are.
And event is defined by federal law as:

An activity such as, but not limited to, a scientific project, conference, convention, lecture series, tour, exhibit, business project, academic year, or engagement. Such activity may include short vacations, promotional appearances, and stopovers which are incidental and/or related to the event. A group of related activities may also be considered to be an event. In the case of an O-1 athlete, the event could be the alien’s contract.

(Updated 10/10/2012 by AG)

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