0-1 Visa Costs
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How Much Does an O-1 Visa Cost?
An O-1 visa is a very popular program for foreign individuals with extraordinary ability seeking to relocate to the United States to work. As is the case with all visa applications, the process, time period, and costs of securing an O-1 visa can be extensive.
There are generally two major costs associated with obtaining the O-1 Visa. The first concerns the filing fees associated with applying. The applicant must file a number of documents with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Each of these documents entails a filing fee. The fees associated with filing a visa application are notoriously high.
The second concern is the cost of a hiring legal counsel to assist with or carry out the process for you. As you are well aware, hiring an attorney to provide legal services can be very expensive. Unfortunately, the visa application process is quite demanding. Trying to undertake the application process without an experienced legal advisor runs the risk that an error will cause the application to be rejected. Given the long time period and filing costs associated with filing the visa, making an error in the process can be a life-altering mistake. As such, hiring a legal professional is somewhat of a necessity in this arena.
Lastly, there may be incidental costs associated with securing the visa. Most notably, the O-1 visa process may require travel back and forth to the US Consulate located in the country where the foreign individual is applying for the visa. While the monetary costs may be low, the presence of some costs and the inconvenience associated with this undertaking is worth noting.
In this article, we explain the various steps in the O-1 Visa application process. To understand the costs associated with applying, it is necessary to first understand what goes into applying. From there, you can determine the filing costs, estimate or inquire about the associated legal fees, and prepare for incidental costs.
What Does the O-1 Visa Require?
As previously stated, the O-1 Visa program can provide a visa to foreign individuals who have some documented extraordinary ability within several predefined areas. he areas where the visa applicant will need to show extraordinary ability include Science, Education, Business, or Athletics, or Arts (including the motion picture or television industry).The USCIS manages the visa application process.
The O-1 visa is a “non-immigrant” visa. This means that the visa allows an individual to stay in the United States for a temporary period of time. It is not connected to permanent residency status (or receipt of a green card). However, the visa is categorized as “dual intent”. This means that an individual who secures an O-1 visa and is in the United States can pursue other visa options (visas available under a different regulation) that may result in the issuance of a green card.
The O-1 visa requires the foreign individual to demonstrate that she has “extraordinary ability” in the previously-mentioned areas of industry. The applicable regulation defines “extraordinary” as, “demonstrating a level of expertise or distinction indicating that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”
The “extraordinary ability” requirement is very difficult to demonstrate. Generally, the foreign individual must be in a highly recognized career path or field in the pre-defined areas. For example, well-known careers paths might include professors or researchers, business executives, athletes, film producers or actors, or artists (such as musicians/composers/conductors/painters/sculptors, etc).
Regardless of the career-path of the individual, she must demonstrate that she has extraordinary ability through extensive documentation. The USCIS explanations to the regulations provide the following examples of types of documentation that may support a claim of extraordinary ability:
• Proof of receipt of national or international awards, such as a Fields Medal, Nobel Prize, Grammy, etc.
• Proof of membership in clubs or societies reserved for the most accomplished individuals in a particular field.
• Proof of scholarly publications or recognized research output that has made an impact in the identified field or industry.
• Copies of literary publications, such as academic or trade journals, magazines, or newspapers, that are respected within an industry and identify the individual for their exceptional ability in their field.
• Holding a leadership role in a prominent (exclusive), industry-related organization.
• Proof that the individual commands a large salary by comparison to others in the field or industry.
• Being a lead performer in a recognized or renowned public work.
The applicant will generally have to provide numerous pieces of evidence to support her contention of extraordinary ability. None of the above example ensure that the individual’s visa application will be accepted. The standard is very subjective in terms of what constitutes exceptional ability.
Putting together this sort of evidence to accompany the visa application should be done in concert with the advice of a legal professional. The lawyer will not be able to identify all of the pieces of evidence that could substantiate an individual’s claim of extraordinary ability. It is up to the foreign individual to present the legal professional with all available evidence that she could use in supporting this contention.
In any event, putting together this part of the application can be time consuming. As such, expect there to be significant legal fees associated with organizing this part of the application.
Most attorneys charge a flat fee for a completed O-1 Visa application. The fee may go up depending on the complexity of demonstrating extraordinary ability. The prevailing rate is in the neighborhood of $5,000.
The cost for filing and the legal fees associated with the O-1 visa application depends upon a number of factors. Below are the steps that will entail filing or legal fees:
Filing Form I-129 O-1 Visa Petition
The O-1 visa begins with filing an application, form I-129, with the USCIS. Except in rare cases, an employer or agent files the O-1 visa an behalf of the foreign individual. This is because the applicant must generally demonstrate a purpose for the US stay that involves carrying on work in her field of extraordinary ability. The applicant must include several documents with the petition. First, she must include an “Itinerary” of work will be done or what is hoped to be accomplished during the time in the United States. She must generally include an “Employer Contract” that demonstrates that she is being contracted to carry on work in her field. Lastly, she should include (if possible) a “consultation”, which is “a written advisory opinion from a peer group or person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability.”
The filing fee associated with the I-129 is $460. The fee is applicable upon the filing of the original application, any extension, or amendments thereto. If the individual wishes to pursue premium processing of her application, she can pay $1,225 for this benefit. For more information on premium processing, visit the LawTrades blog.
The prospective immigrant must also file a form DS-160 as part of the application process for any non-immigrant visa. The cost is $190. This is an online, non-immigrant visa application that accompanies the I-129.
Incidental Costs Associated with the O-1 Visa Petition
The next step concerns an incidental cost. The foreign individual must visit a US consulate located in the country from which she is applying to carry out the application process. This is normally the US consulate located in the country of her citizenship. At the consulate, the applicant will undergo a personal interview with an immigration officer. The purpose is to make certain that what has been presented in the application is accurate and there is no intent for fraud.
The Costs Associated with Form I-94 as Part of the O-1 Visa Petition
At the time of entry, the individual must complete a form I-94. United States Customs and Border Protection Service will review this form upon arrival. This is the arrival and departure record for visa holders visiting the United States. This document does not have a filing fee. If, however, the visa holder loses the form I-94, she must use form I-102 to request a replacement. The filing fee associated with Form I-102 is $445. Note, if the applicant is under 14 years old and traveling with a parent, the filing fee is $750. There may also be a biometrics fee of $469 dollars.
Filling Fee for Applying for an O-1 Visa Extension
The O-1 Visa last for a finite period of time. Fortunately, the visa can be extended indefinitely. There is no pre-defined limit on the number of times that the visa can be extended. If the work being undertaken by the visa holder can substantiate the request for extension, the individual could stay in the United States indefinitely.
When applying for an extension of the original visa, the non-immigrant visa holder must file form I-539. The cost of this form is $370. Note, this fee will apply for extending the visa of any spouse or dependent accompanying the O-1 visa holder.