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A Guide to Moving from F-1 to O-1 Visa

If you’ve studied on an F-1 visa, you may be interested in extending your stay and seeking post-grad employment in the U.S. There are many different employment visas available for professionals looking to work and live in the U.S., including the O-1 visa. The O-1 visa opens up many opportunities for individuals with extraordinary talents and abilities in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. You can read more about the O-1 visa here.

How to Move from F-1 to O-1 Visa

1. Assess your eligibility.

Before making the leap, take some time to evaluate if you meet the eligibility criteria for the O-1 visa. You must either have received a major, internationally recognized award or meet at least three of the criteria below:

  • You are a member of an association in the field that requires outstanding achievements;
  • There are published material in professional or major media about you;
  • You have judged the work of others in the field;
  • You have made original contributions of major significance;
  • You have written scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
  • You have been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations of distinguished reputation; and
  • You have received a high salary or other remuneration.

In addition to satisfying at least three criteria, USCIS also evaluates the totality of all the evidence to determine whether you have extraordinary ability in science, education, business, or athletics.

2. Gather your documents.

Collect evidence showcasing your extraordinary achievements – think awards, publications, letters of recommendation, or anything else that can back up your eligibility above. You’ll need to submit these with your application.

3. Find a sponsor.

Unlike the F-1, the O-1 requires a U.S. employer or agent to act as your sponsor. This could be an individual or an organization willing to vouch for your exceptional abilities. 

4. File the petition.

Once you've confirmed eligibility, organized the documents, and obtained a sponsor, it's time to file the O-1 petition. Your sponsor will submit the necessary paperwork to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf. Patience is key during this stage.

5. Prepare for the interview.

If USCIS approves your petition, get ready to conduct an interview. This is your chance to show off your personality, expertise, and why you're a perfect candidate for the O-1 visa. 

Transitioning from an F-1 to an O-1 visa is an exciting step towards unlocking new opportunities and pursuing your passions in the United States. Seeking guidance from experienced immigration professionals can make all the difference. We can help you navigate each step of the U.S. immigration process.