differences between the O1 and the H-1B visa
Photo by Greg Jeanneau

3 main differences between the O1 and the H1B visa

If you are considering other visas other than the J1, such as the O1 or the H1-B, it is important that you understand the main differences between these options. We always recommend those who have inquiries on our program that they consider the J1 visa as their initial, or “entry” into the American labor type of visa. The reason is because the J1 can be issued much quicker than the other available visas and it gives American companies the opportunity to hire you for up to 18 months without having to commit to extensive fees that the others have to. We do however receive a lot of questions regarding these other visas and the team at Architect-US wanted to give you the three main differences between the O1 and the H1B visa that will hopefully give you a better understanding of the two.


Between the two visas H1-B has a very limited and rigid time-frame. In the event that you have requested the H1-B, you will have to leave the country once it is granted (sometime after April 1st, when the application is opened) until October 1, which becomes effective. That means that if you are fortunate and your visa is granted, you will still have to wait up to 6 months to begin working in the States.  With the O1-B you have to qualify as a foreigner with extraordinary talents and achievements and you will need the employer to file for the petition of the I-129. This petition may take up to 2-3 months, and in the case that you want to expedite the processing time, you will have to pay high fees for it.


The O1-B Visa, or “Artist Visa” is given to candidates that demonstrate extraordinary abilities by national and international acclaim. You must build the case with evidences that set you apart from the crowd with awards or professional experience in the leading companies in the US. With the H1-B visa the difficulty comes with the fact that the options are very limited. Here, UCIS only issues 65,000 H1-B visas per year (to all countries and all disciplines) and since 2013 they registered more than 100,000 applications the same day application opens! So it is a matter of luck getting the visa, as it works on a lottery based system.

Commitments from company

To receive the O1-B Visa you must get high commitment from the Company. The Company has to sponsor you covering all related expenses (visa, lawyer fees, health insurance,..), acquiring a 3 years commitment with the employee and having to pay you a high salary to justify his hire instead of hiring a local one. All these aspects makes American companies have a harder time to sponsoring internationals.The same goes for the H1-B visa, the employer has to also pay for attorney, visa, and other fees which the employer cannot ask the employee to cover. Therefore requiring the employer to pay for fees that the J1-Visa program does not need.

The good news  is that all of our ex-participants of the Job + J1 Visa Program of Architect-US which have applied to the O1-B have achieved it!! Which means that by our criteria of excellence and work, this can be an option for the Host Companies that want the participant to continue with them once the J1 is completed.



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