Making the leap from a temporary visa to a green card is more than just a legal transition; it’s a transformative life event. The freedom to hone a career without a looming deadline, or the joy of being able to bring your family to join you permanently in the United States. While temporary visas provide a foot in the door, they come with their own set of restrictions and the constant pressure of renewal. A green card lifts these limitations, offering you the priceless gift of stability and a future full of possibilities.

The O-1 visa serves as a non-immigrant option for people with exceptional talents in various domains, including the arts, sciences, business, academia, art, or sports. While the O-1 visa allows temporary residence in the U.S., many individuals holding this status are interested in making the transition to permanent residency, often via a green card. To go from an O-1 visa to green card is a complex landscape to navigate. As you reenter the application process, it pays to have someone experienced in immigration law on your side. VisaNation Law Group attorneys have spent more than a decade practicing immigration law and can put you on the right path toward changing your O-1 visa to green card permanent resident status. Just a 20-minute consultation delineating your situation’s specifics can be the difference between an approved and rejected application status. Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to change your status from an O-1 visa to a green card.


Difference between O-1 Visa and Green Card

The O-1 visa and green card serve distinct purposes and come with their own sets of eligibility criteria and benefits. An O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities in fields like science, arts, or business. It’s initially valid for up to three years and can be extended in one-year increments. Importantly, it requires sponsorship from an employer or agent and only allows you to work in your specific field of expertise. On the other hand, a green card grants permanent residency, allowing you to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely, and offers a direct path to citizenship. It grants the freedom to work for any employer and can be obtained through various categories, including employment and family sponsorship.

O-1 Visa to Green Card: Best Options

EB-1 Green Card

One common pathway from an O-1 visa to a green card is the employment-based first preference (EB-1) category, which is divided into three subcategories: EB-1A for individuals with extraordinary abilities, EB-1B for outstanding professors and researchers, and EB-1C for multinational executives and managers. O-1 visa holders may find the EB-1A category most relevant, as both require evidence of extraordinary ability in a particular field. In essence, if you qualify for an O-1 visa, you may already meet many of the criteria for an EB-1A green card. However, each case is unique, and meeting the criteria for an O-1 does not automatically guarantee eligibility for an EB-1A.

EB-2 Green Card

Another option is the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW). If you can demonstrate that your work benefits the United States, you may be eligible for a waiver of the Labor Certification requirement, which typically involves a lengthy process to show that no qualified U.S. workers are available for your job.

It’s worth noting that the transition from an O-1 visa to a green card involves a change from ‘non-immigrant’ to ‘immigrant’ status. This change is significant and should be managed carefully, preferably with the guidance of a skilled immigration lawyer. The process can be complex, and any errors or oversights can lead to delays or denials. Therefore, consulting an experienced lawyer can be invaluable in successfully making this transition.

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Step-By-Step Process: O-1 Visa to Green Card

The transition from an O-1 visa to a green card involves several steps and can be complex, often requiring the assistance of an immigration lawyer for the best outcome. Here’s an outline of what the typical process might look like:

  • Step 1: Determining Eligibility

You must determine the type of employment-based green card for which you are eligible. The EB-1A category for individuals with extraordinary abilities is the most common pathway for O-1 visa holders, but some may also consider the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW). Each category has its own set of criteria and requirements, so it’s essential to consult an experienced immigration attorney to evaluate which pathway aligns best with your qualifications and long-term goals.

  • Step 2: Gathering Evidence

Similar to the O-1 visa, you’ll need to provide extensive documentation to prove your extraordinary abilities or national interest. This can include peer-reviewed articles, awards, letters of recommendation, and other evidence of your accomplishments. This will weigh heavily in the eyes of the government, though the same sort of documentation that qualified you for your O-1 should be viable for a green card.

  • Step 3: Preparing the Application

Depending on the green card category, you’ll likely need to file Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This form should be accompanied by all the required evidence and appropriate fees. The fees are constantly changing, so have an idea of how much you expect to pay beforehand.

O-1 Visa Success Story British actor

  • Step 4: Labor Certification (If Required)

For some green card categories, a Labor Certification may be required to demonstrate that there are no U.S. workers able, willing, and qualified to fill your position. However, EB-1A and EB-2 NIW applicants are generally exempt from this step. If you’re pursuing an EB-1, make sure you know which subcategory you belong in while you’re filing your application.

  • Step 5: Awaiting a Decision

Once the I-140 is filed, you’ll need to wait for United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) to process the application, which can take several months. During this time, you can remain in the U.S. under the terms of your O-1 visa.

  • Step 6: Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

If you are already in the U.S., you can apply for an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) after the I-140 is approved. On the other hand, if you’re outside the U.S., you’ll need to go through consular processing in your home country, which involves an interview and additional scrutiny. Both routes have their own timelines, requirements, and potential obstacles, so it’s advisable to consult an immigration attorney to navigate this complex process effectively.

Cost of Adjustment of Status

For most applicants, the fee for an Adjustment of Status is $1140. The fee comes from filing the mandatory Form I-485 to the USCIS. The cost can vary based on a variety of factors, including form fees, attorney fees, and any additional costs such as medical examinations or translations of foreign documents. There will be an additional $85 fee for the biometrics processing.

  • Step 7: Receiving the Green Card

After the Adjustment of Status is approved or you complete consular processing, you’ll receive your green card, granting you permanent resident status. This milestone allows you to live and work in the United States indefinitely, subject to certain conditions and opens up the possibility of applying for U.S. citizenship in the future.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card After O-1 Visa?

Typically, after your I-140 petition is approved, the Adjustment of Status can take several months to a year or more to process if you are already in the U.S. The time it takes to get a green card after holding an O-1 visa can vary widely based on several factors, including the specific employment-based green card category you’re applying under, the current processing times of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and whether you encounter any complications or delays. Additionally, your nationality may play a role, as some countries face annual green card quotas that can extend wait times. Consulting an immigration attorney can give you a more personalized estimate.

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