O1 Visa
Claudia Conde

The road to an O1 visa

I still can’t believe I have got it. It’s really rewarding after all the efforts and time invested on it seeing that it was worth it after all.

After a few months working in the USA, you will soon realize if you like the experience you are having enough to trying to lengthen it. My first advice would be to try to make up your mind as soon as possible because there is a long way to go before applying for a new visa, so the more time you have, the less stressful it will be and therefore the better. Get the O1 Visa.

For those who are not familiar with this kind of visa, the O1 visa is given to people who have proven “extraordinary abilities” in their field of endeavor.

How do you prove those abilities?

That’s where the hard work comes.

  • First, you will need important people supporting your O1 visa petition, meaning letters of recommendation from recognized characters in your industry willing to attest that you excel in what you do (university professors, principal of the architectural firm, renowned personalities…)
  • Having been featured or any kind of publications are another must have.
  • Other recognitions throughout your career are key too, such as awards, grants or anything that demonstrates you are TOP in your industry.

The hardest thing is to provide evidence of every single thing you claim. For instance, it is not just saying that you were given an award but providing documents that prove it along with information about the importance of the award and testimonials that can attest you were given it. So it is a huge amount of paperwork. Everything should be in English so if any document is in a different language you will also need to provide a certificate translation of it.

Picture by Claudia Conde
So why the O1 Visa instead of the H1?

For me, it was a matter of timing. The H1 application timing frame did not fit in with my previous visa timing. Besides, I felt that since the H1 is assigned through a lottery, the likeliness of being given it was just a matter of luck, something totally out of my control, whereas with the O1 Visa I felt that if I tried my best and worked really hard I would at least feel that I’d done all that I could. It is still a matter of luck because you never know who will judge your visa petition, but there is no limited amount of O1 visas given unlike H1, so if that someone reviewing your application believes you deserve it, you will get it.

The current government has recently changed some of the visa regulations and one of them is regarding the premium processing. Premium processing means that you will get a response after 2 weeks from the submission day. O1 visas applications can still be applied for it but unfortunately, H1 visas cannot do it through premium processing anymore and it will take about 2 months to know the answer and another 3 months to be given it before being entitled to work again. With the O1 Visa it is still up to you to get to know it sooner or after.

I still can’t believe I have got it. It’s really rewarding after all the efforts and time invested in it seeing that it was worth it after all. Now I have 3 more years to go in the USA. I don’t know if I want to stay for that long but for me, this visa means the right to make my own choice.


Claudia Conde


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