How to go From O1 Visa to Green Card: Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Transition from O1 Visa to Green Card: Step-by-Step Guide

The O1 visa allows highly skilled individuals to live and work in the United States for extended periods. However, it does not lead directly to a green card. This guide explains how to transition from an O1 visa to a green card.

Summary of O1 Visa

The O1 visa is for highly skilled individuals in the sciences, arts, business, education, athletics, or the motion picture/television industry. It has two categories: O1A (sciences, business, athletics, education) and O1B (arts, motion picture/television).

General O1 Visa Requirements:

  • Extraordinary ability
  • Sustained excellence in your field
  • Coming to the US to work in your area of extraordinary ability
  • Sponsorship by a US agent or employer
  • Qualifying proposed employment
  • Advisory opinion from a peer group (in some cases)

Proving Extraordinary Ability:

  • O1A: Demonstrate top-tier expertise through a major award or by satisfying 3 of the 8 criteria (awards, publications, memberships, etc.).
  • O1B: Achieve “distinction” in the arts, meaning recognition above the norm, demonstrating prominence in your field.

How to Transition from O1 Visa to Green Card

The O1 visa is temporary and non-immigrant. To get a green card, you must move to an immigrant classification, which involves converting your status.

The Process:

  • Step 1: Get an immigrant petition approved (Form I-140 for employment-based categories, Form I-130 for family-based).
  • Step 2: Choose between adjustment of status (Form I-485) if you’re in the US or immigrant visa processing (Form DS-260) if you’re abroad.

Adjustment of Status:

  • Filed in the US
  • Requires lawful presence in a qualifying non-immigrant status
  • Done by filing Form I-485

Immigrant Visa Processing:

  • Applied at a US consulate/embassy abroad
  • Requires filing Form DS-260 and attending a visa interview

O1 is a Dual-Intent Visa:

  • Allows intent to get a green card
  • Filing an immigrant petition does not affect O1 status renewal/extensions

Some options to go from an O1 to a Green Card:

I- EB1A Visa

The EB1A visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics, allowing self-petition without needing a job offer.

EB1A Requirements:

  • Extraordinary ability
  • Work in your field of extraordinary ability
  • Substantial benefit to the US

Proving Extraordinary Ability:

  • Major internationally recognized award or satisfying 3 of the evidentiary criteria (publications, high salary, membership in organizations, etc.)

II- Employer Sponsorship

A US employer can sponsor you for a green card by offering a full-time job and getting an approved labor certification.

Employer Sponsorship Process:

  • Job recruitment activities
  • Inability to secure a qualified US worker
  • Full-time permanent position offer
  • Prevailing wage payment
  • Financial ability to pay the wage
  • Filing Form I-140 under EB-2 or EB-3

III- EB2 National Interest Waiver

The EB2 national interest waiver is for individuals working in fields with substantial merit and national importance, allowing self-petition without needing a labor certification.

EB2 National Interest Waiver Requirements:

  • Qualify for an EB2 visa (advanced degree or exceptional ability)
  • Field of substantial merit and national importance
  • Well-positioned to advance your field
  • National interest in waiving the job offer and labor certification requirement

IV- EB5 Investor Visa

The EB5 visa is for investors who invest at least $1,050,000 in a US business and create 10 full-time jobs. The investment requirement is reduced to $800,000 in targeted employment areas.

EB5 Visa Process:

  • File Form I-526
  • Upon approval, file Form I-485 for adjustment of status


The O1 visa is a powerful option for highly skilled professionals. However, it does not directly lead to a green card. To transition to a green card, consider options like the EB1A visa, EB2 National Interest Waiver, employer sponsorship, EB-5 and others.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the process, feel free to reach out for guidance.