O1 Visa

I’ve been working on several O1 visas recently and I think one of the hardest aspects has been to convey reasonable expectations to clients.

The O1 visa is for those with extraordinary ability in their field. The petition is similar to an H1B visa in the sense that it must have a sponsoring employer. Unlike the H1B, the O1 does not require having a specialty occupation, it is not subject to a cap, and can be renewed indefinitely. There are several requirements but I would say that evidence of meeting them is subjective for the most part. 

Over the years, I’ve learned that immigration officers can agree and disagree with the evidence in unforeseen ways. I’ve had cases that I would consider very strong that are issued requests for evidence (a request for evidence is issued by the immigration officers when they want to see additional evidence before approving a case), whereas other cases are approved right away. I suppose it could be seen as quality over quantity, but overall I think it simply depends on which officer reviews that specific case.

Maybe it’s an erroneous perception, but it seems that there is almost an expectation from clients that these cases will be approved. While I do pride myself in my work, I do believe there should be a healthy expectation of success. The O1 visa is not just a work visa where you are meant to meet certain objective criteria (even though I could get into how that is changing) ; it is reserved for those at the top of their field and being at the top is not always easily proven (unless you have won a  Nobel prize or the like). Our services are engaged in order to prepare and present the best case possible from our end. Immigration officers’ perception of what the evidence may or may not prove is not always foreseeable. 

My goal has and always will be to assist in securing approvals. Plain and simple. But, everything with immigration is essentially a gamble; sometimes you win and sometimes you need to play again.

Obtaining a “Greencard” through Employment

Please note that the given processing times are subject to change at any time.

Legal Permanent Resident status through the labor certification process requires three steps:

  1. PERM
    1. The employee cannot be involved in this process. This is employer intensive. The overall preparation takes about six months. A prevailing wage request must be submitted to the Department of Labor and they take about 4 months to issue a determination.
    2. After the PERM is filed with the Department of Labor, the DOL takes about 4 to 6 months to certify the application. There is always the possibility of an audit, in which case, that will prolong the process for at least one more month.
  2. I-140 – After the PERM is certified, the employer files the I-140 petition. This takes about 7 months to process, but the employer can decide to premium process the petition for an additional fee. Premium processing guarantees a 15 day turnaround, however, a request for additional evidence may be issued, in which case, Immigration (USCIS) has 15 additional days to issue a decision after a response has been submitted.
  3. I-485 – after the I-140 is approved, the employee can file the I-485, I-131, and I-765 applications:
    1. I-485 is the actual “greencard” application –takes between 10 to 24 months to process after filing
    2. I-131 advance parole (travel permit) – takes about 3 to 5 months to process after filing
    3. I-765 employment authorization document (EAD) – takes about 3 to 5 months to process after filing

Some employees are allowed to file the I-140 and the I-485 together. This depends on whether the visa bulletin indicates that your specific priority date is eligible to file. The visa bulletin is updated every month. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html

USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Season Start, Updates, and Changes | USCIS

Premium Processing for FY 2020 Cap-Subject Petitions

Premium processing will be offered in a two-phased approach during the FY 2020 cap season so USCIS can best manage the premium processing requests without fully suspending it as in previous years. The first phase will include FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions.

Starting April 1, FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitioners requesting a change of status on their Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, may request premium processing by concurrently filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. However, to prioritize data entry for cap-subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will not begin premium processing for these petitions immediately. USCIS will begin premium processing for these petitions no later than May 20, 2019, and will notify the public before premium processing begins for these petitions. If a petitioner does not file Form I-907 concurrently with an FY 2020 H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status, the petitioner must wait until premium processing begins to submit Form I-907. Until premium processing begins for these petitions, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 that is not filed concurrently with a cap-subject Form I-129. Petitioners must appropriately select response “b” for Item 4 in Part 2 of Form I-129 to be eligible to concurrently file Form I-907.

Premium processing for all other FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions will not begin until at least June 2019. Cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status may not submit their premium processing request concurrently with their H-1B petition. These petitioners will be eligible to upgrade to premium processing by filing Form I-907 once premium processing begins for this group. USCIS will notify the public with a confirmed date for premium processing for cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status.

At this time, premium processing for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension of stay requests, remains available.

Source: USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Season Start, Updates, and Changes | USCIS