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O Visa USA Processing Time

O Visa USA Processing Time

Generally speaking, the O visa USA processing time is typically shorter than that of other US visa applications, making another attractive feature of the route.

However, delays can result where there are issues or complexities with the application itself.

We look at how long O-1 visa petitions are taking to process and what applicants can do to avoid processing delays.

What is the O visa processing time?

The O visa processing time is usually between 6 weeks to 3 months.

A determining factor in processing will be the caseload of the consular post where the application is bring processed and whether the application was submitted for standard or premium processing.

O visa premium processing

For an additional fee, you may request premium processing of your O visa petition to expedite the O visa USA processing time.

Under this service, USCIS will adjudicate your case within 15 calendar days. If a request for additional evidence is issued on a petition filed using the premium processing service, USCIS will have an additional 15 calendar days from receipt of the response to adjudicate the case.

If processing is not completed with 15 calendar days, with no additional evidence requirement, USCIS will refund the Premium Processing Service fee and the petition will continue to receive expedited processing.

Applying for the O-1 visa: how to avoid delayed processing time

Delays generally arise where there are issues or complications with the application, making it critical to ensure your application is robust, comprehensive, correct and stands up adjudicator scrutiny.

The evidence you provide with your O-1 application will be critical in ensuring your eligibility is proven, leading to smooth processing and a faster decision.

The following documentary evidence is to be filed with your Form I-129:

Extraordinary ability

Central to the O-1 visa application will be your eligibility as an alien of extraordinary ability.

The specific type of evidence will depend on the type of O-1 visa you are applying for, but in all cases, it is recommended to over-document in support of your application rather than make assumptions. Scrutiny of all US visa classifications is increasing, and O visa applicants will need to overcome the high visa threshold through their documentation.

O-1A visa official evidence

  • You have received a major, internationally-recognized award in your particular field eg Nobel Prize.


  • Submit at least three of the below documents, or comparable evidence, to prove your eligibility:
    • Documentation of your receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field of endeavour;
    • Documentation of your membership in associations in your field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about you, relating to your work in the field.
    • Evidence of your participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in your field.
    • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
    • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
    • Evidence that you have been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or
    • Evidence that you have commanded a high salary or you will command a high salary for your services.

O-1B visa official evidence

  • Evidence that you have been nominated for, or have been the recipient of, significant national or international awards or prizes in your field.


  • Submit at least three of the below documents, or comparable evidence, to prove your eligibility:
    • Evidence you have performed, and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation;
    • Evidence you have achieved national or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about you in major publications;
    • Evidence you have performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
    • Evidence that you have a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes;
    • Evidence that you have received significant recognition for achievements from experts in the field; or
    • Evidence that you have commanded a high salary or will command a high salary in relation to others in the field.

Contract of employment

A key requirement of the O-1 visa is to have secured qualifying employment in the US.

The adjudicator will need to be satisfied that you have eligible employment lined up, meaning your application will need to offer sufficient evidence.

The most obvious proof will be a copy of your contract with your intended US-based employer.

If you do not have a written contract, a summary of terms should be provided, supported by other forms of evidence such as email exchanges with the employer that support and verify the terms.


In addition to the terms of your employment, USCIS will also want to understand the type of the activities you will perform in the US. This demands detail relating to your schedule and the nature of the activities you will be engaged in as part of your role.

Details of any planned events, performances, talks etc relating to your field of extraordinary ability and proposed job in the US should be given. This also give indication to the adjudicator of how long you will be required to be in the US.


A further piece of documentary evidence is a written advisory opinion from an appropriate consulting entity or entities – if such an appropriate entity exists.

This should be provided by an individual or peer group with expertise in your specific field. To avoid any issues with authenticity, the submission given to USCIS must be in original form on official letterhead.

If no appropriate peer group exists, you will need to provide evidence to support this assertion. If accepted by USCIS, the application will be assessed on your application evidence alone.

NNU Immigration can help with your O visa application

NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys with particular expertise in O visas.

We guide applicants through the entire process, from eligibility advice to support with compiling compelling supporting evidence to support the application.

If you have a question about an O-1 visa, please contact us for advice.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

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