O-1 Requests & USCIS Processing
STEP 1: Preparing the O-1 request
STEP 2: Completion of the O-1 petition
STEP 3: USCIS receipt & processing time
STEP 4: USCIS approval
STEP 1: Preparing the O-1 request [top]
The UH department should submit an O-1 request to FSIS through the Administrative/Personnel Officer (AO/PO) for the college/school/unit no later than 45 days prior to the requested O-1 start date. Submission of a late request may result
in an O-1 beneficiary being unable to start employment on time or
losing his/her legal immigration status in the U.S.
FIRST, the UH department should obtain information from the employee to prepare an O-1 request to be submitted to FSIS. The department should complete/gather the following documents for the O-1 request:
SECOND, the department should forward the O-1 request to the college/school/unit’s Administrative/Personnel Officer (AO/PO).
THIRD, the AO/PO should review the request, attach any necessary documents, and send the complete request to FSIS, Attn: Signe, PSB 102-106.
- Petitions for O-1 extension, changes of status, amendment, and change of employer must be received by USCIS no later than the business day on or before the employee’s current status end date. If USCIS receives any of these types of O-1 petitions late, the person will no longer be in valid status and may begin accruing unlawful presence.
- If employee is subject to the 2-year home country residence requirement stemming from J-1 or J-2 status, he/she is not eligible for a change of status to O-1. Instead, he/she must leave the U.S., wait for the O-1 petition to be approved, obtain an O-1 visa, and then enter the U.S. in O-1 status.
- When preparing an O-1 request, the department should ask the foreign national whether he/she has any family members who will require an O-3 change of status or extension.
- UH can request up to 3-year periods on an initial O-1 petition and up to 1-year periods on subsequent extensions. If the person is involuntarily terminated prior to the O-1 authorization end date, the college/school/unit/department is responsible for paying the reasonable costs of return transportation to the person’s last place of foreign residence.
- UH can submit a petition to USCIS up to 1 year prior to the intended O-1 start date.
- Once the petition is sent to USCIS, adjudication through regular processing takes 2-3 months on average. Premium Processing Service is available for an additional fee – USCIS will act on the petition (i.e. approval, denial, or a request for additional evidence) within 15 calendar days of receipt.
- AOs/POs should consult with FSIS if any of the following situations apply:
- The foreign national is currently in F-1 status with a graduation date or F-1 status/OPT end date that will occur more than 60 days prior to the intended O-1 start date.
- The foreign national is currently in J-1 status with a program end date that will occur more than 30 days prior to the intended O-1 start date.
- The foreign national and/or his/her dependents currently are or previously were in J-1 or J-2 status, subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement.
STEP 2: Completion of the O-1 petition [top]
FSIS receives the request from the AO/PO, we will send an export
compliance review request to the UH Export Compliance Officer. The
Export Compliance Officer will contact the PI/supervisor directly for
more information about the beneficary's work in order to make a
determination on the export compliance issue.
After receiving an approval recommendation from the UH Export Compliance Officer, FSIS will prepare/obtain the following documents:
- USCIS Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker & O Supplement
- Written advisory opinion from the appropriate consulting entity
- Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service (if applicable)
- Revised Form I-539 (if applicable)
FSIS will send the completed O-1 petition to the AO/PO along with a memo regarding the payment of fees and proper USCIS mailing addresses.
STEP 3: USCIS receipt & processing time [top]
After the UH department mails the O-1 petition to USCIS, USCIS will mail a receipt notice to FSIS if the O-1 petition has been properly and timely filed.
Change of status to O-1: If a petition for a change of status to O-1 from another nonimmigrant status (e.g. F-1, J-1) has been mailed to USCIS, the employee should not leave the U.S. until USCIS approves the petition. If the employee leaves the U.S. while it is pending with USCIS, he/she will be abandoning the change of status. If he/she has plans to travel abroad while the petition is pending, the UH department should notify FSIS BEFORE the petition is sent to USCIS.
Change of employer, concurrent employment, or amendment: The employee cannot begin/change UH employment until USCIS approves the petition.
O-1 extensions: The employee may continue UH employment after FSIS receives the USCIS receipt notice for up to 240 days from the current O-1 end date. Departments can use a copy of the USCIS receipt notice to show employment eligibility while the petition is pending.
- USCIS receipt notices are often delayed. To ensure the receipt notice arrives in time to continue UH employment, departments should mail O-1 petitions to USCIS at least 3 weeks prior to the intended start date.
- Departments should use the USCIS receipt notice, rather than the courier’s delivery confirmation, to show employment eligibility. Even if delivery was timely, USCIS may later reject the petition. Rejected petitions are not considered “filed” with USCIS.
USCIS processing time
- Regular Processing: Normally takes 2-4 months on average.
- Premium Processing: USCIS will act on the petition (i.e. approval, denial, or a request for more evidence) within 15 calendar days of receipt. This service is available for an additional fee.
See the USCIS Case Status Service website to check the status of pending petitions and to see average processing times.
STEP 4: USCIS approval [top]
Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send an O-1 approval notice (Form I-797 Notice of Action) to FSIS. FSIS will transmit the following documents to the AO/PO:
- Memo to the employee (the information provided in this memo will differ depending on the type of petition that was filed on the employee’s behalf)
- Original O-1 approval notice: This should be given to the employee, who should keep the bottom portion of the notice in his/her passport. The original top portion of the notice, which is the employer's copy, will generally be kept in FSIS files.
- Contact Information Form (given only to new O-1 employees)
Petitions for entry in O-1 status
The employee must enter the U.S. from abroad to begin the O-1 period. The employee should review the O-1 entry procedures for more information on visa application and entry procedures.
After the employee and his/her O-3 dependents arrive in the U.S., UH departments should send the following documents to FSIS so we can update our files and check that the employee was properly admitted to the U.S.:
- Completed Contact Information Form
- Top portion of the original O-1 approval notice (if borrowed)
- Copy of both sides of the new I-94 card or I-94 printout from CBP's I-94 website
- Copy of admission stamp with notations in passport
- Copy of O visa in passport (if obtained)
- Copy of passport biodata/expiration page (if new)
- Copies of #3-6 above for each O-3 dependent (if applicable)
Petitions for change of status, O-1 extension, amendment, change of employer, or concurrent employment
O-1 status will automatically begin/continue upon the O-1 approval notice start date. The employee does not need to leave the U.S. to apply for an O-1 visa and reenter the U.S. to begin/continue his/her O-1 period.
If the employee will not begin employment at UH for any reason, the department must inform FSIS immediately so we can notify USCIS.