One of the most prestigious visas available is the O-1 visa for people with extraordinary ability. The requirements may be strict, but the advantages are many. For those that qualify, you may be wondering how much this coveted visa will cost you. To find out what the O-1 processing fees will be for 2017, keep on reading.
O-1 Visa Background
While the O-1 visa may be for people with extraordinary ability, the definition of “extraordinary” can be up for debate. Before we can understand the O-1 processing fees, we first need to see what goes into obtaining the visa. The USCIS gives specific criteria for proving this depending on which subcategory you fall into:
O-1A: This subcategory is for foreign-born aliens that can prove that they have achieved the extraordinary in the areas of science, business, athletics, and education.
O-1B: This one is designed for those that possess extraordinary ability in the areas of art, movies, or television.
Each subcategory carries with it a list of criteria that could qualify you for an O-1 visa. This can include international awards, published material, or a high salary.
If you believe that you qualify for this visa, the application process is relatively simple. The first thing you need to do is find an employer to sponsor you. This employer will be responsible for petitioning on your behalf throughout the O-1 process.
Once you have your employer, they must file an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS along with all of the evidence and documents required to prove your extraordinary achievements.
The I-129 petition is used for both the O-1A and the O-1B and has a processing time that varies based on the workload of the service center that is processing it. On average, however, you can expect a wait time of about six months.
After the petition is approved, your next step will depend on whether or not you are currently in the U.S. If you are, then your status will automatically change to O-1 status when your petition is approved. If you are currently outside the U.S., then you will need to go through consular processing.
Consular processing requires that you travel to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. There, you will submit a DS-160 online visa application form and go through a personal interview with a consular officer. If everything goes well, you will be awarded your O-1 visa which will be valid for an initial period of three years with the opportunity to extend it indefinitely.
O1 Processing Fees
Now that we know the process, we can break it down into the O-1 processing fees that each step requires. Here are the mandatory O-1 visa fees for 2017:
- 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 – we charge a flat O-1 visa fee for our services. You can view them on our 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.
What About Premium Processing?
Fortunately, you are not bound to waiting six 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 $1,410. This will effectively shorten the wait time for your I-129 petition from six months to 15 calendar days.
Important: The USCIS has recently announced that premium processing has been suspended for all H-1B visa petitions in 2017. However, this only applies to the H-1B visa. If you are filing an I-129 petition for an O-1 visa, this suspension does not apply to you.
Altogether, if you do not opt for premium processing, you can expect a total of $650 in mandatory O1 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.
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 O1 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.
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.
O1 Visa Processing Time 2017
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 six 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.
- 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.
To get a better idea of what your O-1 processing timeline will look like, consult your immigration attorney.
How Our O-1 Visa Attorneys Can Help
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.
Our 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. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, take a moment to fill out this contact form to schedule your consultation today.