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

If you’ve had an incredible experience on the J-1 visa in the United States but want to stay longer with your current employer (or move to a new one), the O-1 visa might just be your pathway to staying in the United States.

The O-1 visa is for individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements in their field. Whether you're an artist, scientist, entrepreneur, or expert in your field, this visa could be your golden ticket. We break down the O-1 visa more in this blog post.

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

1. Check the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement: Some J-1 visa holders may be subject to a two-year home residency requirement, which means they must return to their home country or country of last permanent residence for at least two years before being eligible for certain other U.S. visas. You’ll need to check to see if this applies to you before applying for another visa.

2. Assess your eligibility.

Before making the leap, take some time to evaluate if you meet the eligibility criteria for the O-1 visa. This includes demonstrating extraordinary abilities or achievements, receiving national or international recognition, and having a job offer from a U.S. employer.

3. Gather your documents.

Collect evidence showcasing your extraordinary achievements – think awards, publications, testimonials, or anything else that proves you're at the top of your game. Your future employer will also need to provide a detailed job offer, so make sure you communicate that to them.

4. Find a sponsor.

Unlike the J-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. Your current employer may be willing to sponsor you, or you may have an offer from a different employer that’ll vouch for you.

5. 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.

6. 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. You can learn more about how to crush the O-1 interview here.

Transitioning from a J-1 to an O-1 visa may seem like a daunting process, but with the right preparation and confidence, you'll be on your way to your next adventure in the United States.