O1 Visa to Green Card (Are You Eligible?)
Adjusting your status from O-1 visa to a Green Card
Unlike most temporary US visas, the O-1 visa offers holders a path to a Green Card. Adjusting your status from O-1 to Green Card can be an attractive move for individuals considering a longer-term position in the US.
A Green Card removes the requirement to undergo the visa renewal process. The length of visa issued under the O-1 route is generally determined by the length of time needed for the visa holder to perform their activities with the petitioning employer, up to a maximum period of three years. To remain in the US, extensions must be applied for. Three years quickly comes around, particularly given the intensive nature of the visa extension petitioning process.
The three-year threshold can limit availability of career options compared to the stability of Green Card status preferred or expected by employers.
Re-entering the US with an O-1 visa is not always straightforward and you may be subject to additional questions from border officials.
With US permanent residence, your lawful status would be indefinite and you would no longer need to apply to extend your visa. You can enjoy rights including access to education, home financing and eligibility to naturalize as a US citizen, in most cases, after 5 years. With citizenship, you attain the same rights as US nationals; you can vote and if convicted of a crime, you would not be subject to deportation.
Green Card requirements
US permanent resident status may become available to O-1 visa holders through the EB-1A classification, provided they meet the eligibility requirements. The EB-1A classification has one standard for all professions, irrespective of O-1A or O-1B status.
To be eligible, you will need to show you qualify under two tests:
1. Preliminary ‘objective’ test
This requires you submit evidence that you satisfy at least three of the following demonstrating extraordinary ability in your field:
- Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
- Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
- Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
- Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
- Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
- Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
- Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts
2. Subjective final merits determination
The Final Merits Determination assesses your status are one of the most accomplished people in your field as:
- “one of that small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor” and
- that you have received “sustained national or international acclaim” and that your “achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise”.
Defining a field of specialism that is sufficiently narrow yet credible will be critical to formulating a compelling petition and evidencing your position at the top of that field.
What is the process of adjusting status from O-1 to permanent resident?
To convert from an O-1 visa to the EB-1A classification, you will need to file form I-140 with USCIS.
The application does demand substantial supporting documentation to be compiled and submitted to evidence your eligibility. This includes records of your achievements to demonstrate you meet the extraordinary ability standard within your field through sustained national or international acclaim and how your work is of benefit to the US.
Once form I-140 is approved, your priority date becomes current. At this stage in the process, you could either:
- File form I-485 with USCIS from within the US, or
- If overseas, process your Green Card application at a US consular office abroad.
If petitioning from within the US, you will receive separate employment and travel authorization from USCIS during adjudication.
Unlike the O-1 visa initial visa and extension process, you are not required to be sponsored by a qualifying US employer for the EB-1A. There is also no requirement to secure PERM Labor Certification.
Do you have a question about transferring from an O1 visa to a Green Card?
Adjusting status to a Green Card from the O-1 visa requires a detailed assessment of your career achievements, professional experience, employment history and prospects.
With specialist insight into EB-1A adjudication considerations, NNU Immigration can advise on your eligibility as an O-1 visa holder for a US Green Card, providing guidance on compiling a thorough and comprehensive petition.
As specialists in US immigration, NNU’s London-based attorneys have extensive experience in working with O-1 visa holders across all fields of specialism. Contact us for advice on your EB-1A eligibility and the petitioning process.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.