If you are among the most prestigious experts in your field in the area of science, art, education, business, athletics, or motion picture/television then you may qualify for a very special visa called the O-1 visa. While the requirements are very stringent, the O-1 visa affords many benefits to those who qualify. In this guide, we’ll take a look at all the filing fees associated with the O-1 so you can make a well-informed decision on whether it’s the right immigration path for you. We strongly recommend having an experienced immigration attorney handle the entire case from beginning to end to avoid any unnecessary processing delays due to mistakes or omissions in filing your case. In the long run, it is also the more cost-effective path to obtaining an approval.

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O-1 Filing Fees

Let’s start by breaking down the process to determine the O-1 processing fees that each step requires. Here are the mandatory O-1 visa fees for 2023:

  • Basic I-129 filing fee: $460 – this fee will be required every time that this petition is filed. This includes extensions and amendments as well.
  • DS-160 filing fee: $190

Along with the mandatory O-1 processing fees, there are several other auxiliary costs that may come into play such as:

  • Travel costs to and from the U.S. embassy or consulate as well as traveling to the U.S. once the visa has been obtained
  • Attorney fees – VisaNation Law Group charges a flat O-1 visa fee for their services. You can view them on the fees page.
  • If you are planning on bringing your spouse or children with you to the U.S., they will need to file an I-539 form when they are ready to extend their status. The filing fee for this form is $370.

Once USCIS receives your Form I-129, the employer will receive:

  • Receipt notice confirming USCIS received your petition;
  • Biometric services notice, if applicable;
  • Notice to appear for an interview, if required; and
  • Notice of USCIS’ decision.

O-1 Visa Attorney Fees

The attorney fee to file an O-1 visa by our team is $4,900.

Premium Processing fee: $2500 (optional)

What About Premium Processing?

Fortunately, you are not bound to waiting months for your I-129 petition to be processed. The USCIS offers a special service called premium processing to those that submit an I-907 form with an additional O-1 processing fee of $2,500. This will effectively shorten the wait time for your I-129 petition from six months to 15 calendar days.

Altogether, if you do not opt for premium processing, you can expect a total of $650 in mandatory O-1 processing fees. However, you may be able to expect additional costs depending on your situation and whether or not you choose to hire an immigration attorney.

How to Choose an O-1 Visa Lawyer

Below are some key characteristics you should look for when choosing an O-1 lawyer. Use your discretion and always do some research to make sure they are a credible law firm.

  • Experience and Specialization – Look for a lawyer who specializes in O-1 visa cases and has a proven track record of success.
  • Education and Credentials – Check the lawyer’s credentials, such as their education, professional memberships, and certifications.
  • Communication – Your lawyer should be responsive to your questions and be able to keep you updated about your case.
  • Legal Fees – Look for lawyers that have transparent billing structures, and make sure you understand the costs involved.
  • Personal Approach – A good lawyer will offer a personalized approach and take the time to understand your unique situation and goals.

Is a Refund Possible?

The USCIS is not usually in the business of delivering refunds. However, they have stated that there are a few select situations in which someone can expect an O-1 processing fee refund:

  • If the USCIS has asked you for an unnecessary form that required a fee.
  • If the USCIS has asked for a fee payment greater than that which is stated on their website.
  • If the USCIS fails to process your I-129 petition within 15 calendar days after the premium processing fee has been paid.

How Should I Make These Payments?

The USCIS requires that you pay the O-1 processing fees in the form of either a money order or a cashier’s check. It is generally recommended that each payment be separated into individual checks or money orders, as adding them together could cause difficulties. Speak with your immigration attorney to determine the best strategy for paying your O-1 processing fees.

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O-1 Visa Fees for Extension

As stated above, another great advantage of the O-1 visa is the ability to extend it indefinitely provided that the work that brought you into the U.S. has not been completed. To extend or renew your visa, you simply need the following documents:

  • A new I-129 petition and the $460 O-1 processing fee
  • A copy of your arrival/departure form I-94
  • A written statement detailing why the extension is necessary
  • An I-539 form and a filing fee of $370 if your spouse or dependents want to renew their visas as well.

Can I Change Employers?

In order to transfer your O-1 status to a new employer, you must have the new employer file a new I-129 petition along with the O-1 processing fee of $460.

o-1 visa fees

O-1 Visa Processing Time 2023

You may also be wondering how long your O-1 visa will take to process from start to finish. To learn that, we must break down each step and estimate the processing time.

  • The I-129 petition takes an average of two months to process. This, however, is heavily dependent on your service center’s caseload. Using premium processing will shorten this processing time to 15 calendar days.
    • The best way to get an accurate gauge of the processing time is to use this USCIS tool. You would first select I-129 under the Form field, then select O under the Form Category field and then the specific field office or service center handling your application. Right now, the California service center is handling 80% of cases within 2 months while the Vermont service center is handling 80% of cases within 1.5 months.
  • You should also take into consideration the amount of time it will take to gather and organize the evidence required to prove your eligibility for the O-1 visa.
  • If you are outside the U.S. and must go through consular processing, the O-1 processing time may be extended depending on when the consulate or embassy schedules your interview appointment.

If you have additional questions about your case, your first point of contact should be your immigration attorney but your other option is to use the tool on the USCIS processing times page. You would put in your receipt date and it will tell you when you can inquire directly with USCIS about your case.

o-1 visa fees

Frequently Asked Questions

How does it compare in terms of processing time to the H-1B visa? 

Typically, the processing time for the O-1 visa is quicker compared to other visas such as the H-1B visa. However, it is advisable to allow a timeframe of three to four months for the application to be processed. Since the processing time for the I-129 petition depends on the specific service center handling it, it can be challenging to determine the exact duration to anticipate.

Check out this O-1 Visa vs EB-1 Green Card Guide. 

Can I change my status to permanent residency with the O-1?

In certain situations, individuals holding O-1 visa status may decide to apply for a change of status (COS) to a different non-immigrant status or even pursue permanent residency. The O-1 visa classification is considered to have “dual intent,” which means that, unlike other work visas you can pursue a green card while being on O-1 status. If you are currently in the United States and wish to change your status, you must have been legally admitted into the country on a non-immigrant status,  should not have committed any crimes or engaged in activities that would make you ineligible for immigration benefits, there should be no outstanding circumstances that require you to leave the country before changing your visa category and you will need to submit a change of status application before the expiration date of your I-94 document.

What are the advantages of an O-1 visa over other work visas? 

One significant benefit is that there is no annual quota imposed on O-1 visas. In contrast to the H-1B which has an annual quota of 65,000 in the regular cap and an additional 20,000 in the master’s exemption, this is a substantial advantage. Another benefit is the ability to extend the O-1 visa in one-year increments after the initial three-year period. These extensions can be granted indefinitely, provided that the visa holder maintains their nonimmigrant status and can demonstrate that an extended stay in the U.S. is necessary to complete the work for which they were initially granted the visa.

How do I get an O-1 sponsor? 

Typically, there are two types of sponsors for the O-1 visa: an employer and an agent. An employer is a company or individual for whom the applicant will work or provide services. On the other hand, an agent is hired to represent the applicant’s skills and help them find suitable employment. The sponsor, regardless of being an employer or an agent, must provide three essential components on behalf of the applicant:

  1. Information: This includes details such as the sponsor’s name, address, tax ID number, gross income, net income, number of employees, and other relevant information.
  2. A signed petition: The sponsor needs to submit a petition requesting work status for the individual.
  3. Good faith: The sponsor must demonstrate a genuine intention to collaborate with the applicant in the suggested manner.

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What if my O-1 visa extension was denied? 

Some common reasons for an O-1 visa extension denial or rejection are:

  1. You no longer work in the capacity that earned you the O-1 visa in the first place.
  2. The USCIS has determined that the project you were working on no longer requires your presence to be successfully completed.
  3. You have in some way violated your O-1 status.
  4. There is an error or omission in your petition.
  5. Your fees were inadequate or incorrectly filed.

If you’ve been denied your first call should be to your immigration attorney who will better be able to gauge the next step. Some avenues including filing a motion to reopen, a motion to reconsider, or trying a different visa classification path altogether. Whatever you do, do not become confrontational with USCIS officials or attempt to bribe them in any way. Some common alternative green cards that O-1 visa holders choose are the EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-2.

How VisaNation Law Group Can Help

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With situations as delicate as an O-1 visa application, it is important to always have a qualified immigration attorney working with you to make sure that you are successfully navigating the complex arena of immigration law. VisaNation Law Group's O-1 attorneys have years of experience working alongside foreign nationals with extraordinary ability to help them identify the proper evidence of their achievements as well as file the correct O-1 processing fees. 

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