Working in the United States
Initial Period of Stay
Extension of Stay
Up to 3 years
USCIS will determine time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to 1 year.
As an O nonimmigrant, the beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. The beneficiary may only engage in authorized employment during the validity period of the petition.
Extension of Stay
The petitioner must request an extension of stay to continue or complete the same event or activity by filing the following documentation with USCIS:
- Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
- A copy of the beneficiary’s Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record
- A statement from the petitioner explaining the reasons for the extension
In order to assist USCIS in adjudication of your request for extension, the statement should describe the event or activity that was the basis for the original approval and confirm that the extension is needed in order for the beneficiary to continue or complete the same event or activity as described.
The beneficiary’s spouse and children must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and submit any supporting documents to extend their stay.
For more information see the “Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status” link to the right.
Family of O-1 and O-2 Visa Holders
Any accompanying or following to join spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 nonimmigrant. They may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in full or part time study on an O-3 visa.
If you are an O-1 nonimmigrant in the United States and you want to change employers, then your new employer must file a Form I-129 with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions.
If the petition was filed by an agent, an amended petition must be filed with evidence relating to the new employer and a request for an extension of stay.
Material Change in Terms and Conditions of Employment
If there has been any material change in the terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the petitioner must file an amended petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.
Note: There are special rule for athletes. When professional athletes with O-1 nonimmigrant status are traded from one team to another, employment authorization will continue with the new team for 30 days during which time the new employer must file a new Form I-129. The simple act of filing the Form I-129, within this 30-day period, extends the employment authorization at least until the petition is adjudicated. If the new employer does not file a new Form I-129 within 30 days of the trade, the athlete loses his or her employment authorization. The athlete also loses his or her employment authorization if the new Form I-129 is denied.
If the employment of an O nonimmigrant beneficiary is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer must pay for the reasonable cost of your return transportation to the O nonimmigrant’s last place of residence before entering into the United States. If an agent filed the petition for the employer, the agent and the employer are equally responsible for paying these costs.
O-1 Visa Links
- I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
- I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
- I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service
- Employment-Based Forms
Other USCIS Links
- Listening Session on O Nonimmigrant Classifications
Question and Answers
- Address Index for I-129 O & P Consultation Letters
- Clarifying Guidance on "O" Petition Validity Period Revisions to the Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) Chapter 33.4(e)(2) AFM Update AD10-36 July 20, 2010 (57 KB PDF)
- Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for the O and P Visa Classifications (890 KB PDF)