Sponsoring or Extending an O-1

The approval of an O-1 petition requires a substantial amount of evidence.  O-1 sponsorship is generally not considered unless other options such as J-1 or H-1B are not possible or the scholar already holds O-1 status and requires concurrent O-1 sponsorship. 

O-1 is adjudicated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is job-specific and employer-specific.

Process Example
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Eligibility

The O-1 petition needs to demonstrate extraordinary ability by documenting at least three of the following:

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Before You Sponsor / Petition Overview

There is no limit to the time an individual can be in O-1 status. The first petition can be up to three years; thereafter, the extension, with updated documentation, is for one year at a time.

Due to the long process of collecting evidence, it is recommended that you begin the new  O-1 application or extension more than six months in advance of the intended start date. It can take USCIS four months or more to adjudicate a petition.

If you want the petition to be adjudicated sooner, Premium Processing--which has a $1225 USCIS fee--guarantees action within 15 days of receipt by USCIS. If USCIS sends a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) to make its determination, the 15-day "clock" will be re-set once they receive the requested additional documentation. If USCIS cannot issue a decision, request for evidence or other notice within the 15-day period, USCIS will refund the $1,225 Premium Processing fee.

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How to Sponsor / Extend

CUMC departments should contact ISSO-CUMC.

How to sponsor or extend an O-1
Step 1

Login to the Scholar Sponsorship Portal (SSP) with your UNI and password to initiate an online application for O-1 sponsorship

This must be initiated by the department, not the scholar. Contact us if you are a department administrator requesting access to the SSP.

Step 2

Gather your documents and checks

You need to compile your the following documents and checks for the fees for the USCIS petition and collect the required documentation from your prospective O-1 scholar. 

Documents for All Applicants

Attach offer letter

(applications for post-doctoral positions are exempt from this requirement)

This letter must be quite detailed and include certain items. You may use the sample letter as a guide. Affirmative action approval must be granted before an O-1 application is submitted.

When preparing a Check Request to submit to Accounts Payable, use the address for US Dept. of Homeland Security, USCIS Service Center, 75 Lower Weldon Street, St. Albans, VT 05479-0001. Do not user enclosure text--use only "hold for pickup" when requesting these checks. The processing fees are:

  • $460 I-129 petition
  • $370 I-539 change of status/extension of stay application for dependents
  • $1,225 Optional additional premium processing fee. This ensures that the USCIS will process an application in 15 days rather than the usual 3 months. This optional fee must be a separate check form the I-129 petition fee and any I-539 fee. If USCIS cannot issue a decision, request for evidence or other notice within the 15-day period, USCIS will refund the $1,225 Premium Processing fee.

O-1 Applications in the Performing Arts
O-1 Applicants in Academic Teaching and Research

Additional Documents (O-1 applicants in Teaching and Research)

Provide three copies of your C.V., including a list of publications

Provide three copies of your passport ID page with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's expected date of entry to the United States.

If you have previously been in the U.S. in J-1, F-1, H-1 or O-1 status, please attach three copies of all previous DS-2019, or I-20 forms (and Employment Authorization Document—if applicable), or I-797 approval notices and all United States visas in the passport. Copies can be certified by the applicant signing the Certification of Documents statement. One statement is good for all copied documents.

If you are currently in the U.S., attach three printed copies of your electronic I-94 arrival/departure record

If you have a dependent currently in the United States who is applying for a change of status or extension with you, they must complete USCIS form I-539, which may be downloaded from the USCIS website.

Please note that the name of the applicant in Part 1 is that of the dependent. If there is more than one dependent, list them on Supplement 1 of the I-539 form. The form I-539 requires a fee of $370 payable to Department of Homeland Security.

  • Include 2 copies of each dependent's I-94 arrival/departure record, visa stamp and passport pages.
  • Include 2 copies of either a marriage certificate (spouse) or birth certificate (child) to prove
  • the familial relationship

Provide three copies of certified diplomas and certified transcripts in the original language. If the original language is not English, provide three copies of certified translations of diplomas and transcripts. Copies can be certified by signing the Certification of Documents statement. Translations must be certified by an official translator.

If the degree does not appear to be equivalent to a comparable U.S. degree, it must be evaluated by an outside agency to determine U.S. equivalency. Two reputable firms to contact are Trustforte Corp or Morningside Evaluations. These firms can also translate your documents.

Evidence in the form of letters from prominent colleagues who can confirm applicant’s original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance to the field. Provide at least 5 letters from your “peer group” attesting to your outstanding qualifications.

The case is strengthened by letters from outside the Columbia community and outside the United States. The referees should also outline their own standing in the field. See sample letter and guidelines for peer letters.

a. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field. Provide photocopies of 1-3 award certificates or copies of letters with the award notification.
b. Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized experts in the field. Provide copies of 1-3 appointing letters.
c. Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media. Provide copies of 1-3 articles.
d. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about applicant’s work. Provide copies of 1-3 publications.
e. Evidence of participation on a panel, or as a judge of the work of others in the field. Provide photocopies of 1-3 letters of appointment to editorial boards or letters of invitation to review the work of others.
f. Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation. Provide a statement that the individual has worked for other prestigious organizations fulfills this requirement, e.g. the NIH.

Additional Documents (O-1 applicants in the Arts)

Provide three copies of your C.V., including a list of publications

Provide three copies passport ID page with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's expected date of entry to the United States.

If you have previously been in the U.S. in J-1, F-1, H-1 or O-1 status, please attach three copies of all previous DS-2019, or I-20 forms (and Employment Authorization Document—if applicable), or I-797 approval notices and all United States visas in the passport. Copies can be certified by the applicant signing the Certification of Documents statement. One statement is good for all copied documents.

If you have a dependent currently in the United States who is applying for a change of status or extension with you, they must complete USCIS form I-539, which may be downloaded from the Forms and Fees section of the USCIS website.

Please note that the name of the applicant in Part 1 is that of the dependent. If there is more than one dependent, list them on Supplement 1 of the I-539 form. The form I-539 requires a fee of $370 payable to Department of Homeland Security.

  • Include 2 copies of each dependent's I-94 arrival/departure record, visa stamp and passport pages.
  • Include 2 copies of either a marriage certificate (spouse) or birth certificate (child) to prove
  • the familial relationship.

The consultation must be from an organization with expertise in the specific field involved, must state that the position requires a person of extraordinary ability and must give facts as to why this is so. Refer to the list of Organizations that will write peer evaluations for information on those who can attest to the applicant's outstanding qualifications. This is necessary for performers.

If no union/association exists:

Provide at least five letters of support from senior people (peers) in the field of specialization outside of Columbia attesting to the scholar's “demonstrated extraordinary ability” and highlighting significant contributions to the field.

a. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field. Provide photocopies of 1-3 award certificates or copies of letters with the award notification.
b. Has achieved national or international recognition for achievements. Provide copies of 1-3 appointing letters.
c. Evidence of performance as a lead, starring or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation. Provide copies of 1-3 copies of play bills, reviews, programs or any other written proof.
d. Evidence of having received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged. Provide copies of reviews, awards, articles written in periodicals, interviews, or any other written proof of recognition.
e. Evidence of commanding a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field. This category does not usually apply to those performing at universities.

Step 3

Hand-deliver the complete application materials with checklist to us

Our office is located in the Nash Building at 3280 Broadway (between 132-133rd St.) in Suite 510 on the 5th floor.

Step 4

We will contact you

Allow up to 10 business days for us to review and process your application. We will notify you by email when the approval notice is ready to be picked up by your department. The envelope will also have copies of petition documents for your employee.

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Extending an O-1

Extending

Before You Extend

The initial O-1 petition can be filed for a 3-year period.  Thereafter, extensions are limited to one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of extensions that may be filed

Begin the process 6 months before your intended O-1’s start date or as soon as possible within that window. It can take USCIS five months or more to adjudicate a petition

Premium Processing guarantees a USCIS action on the case within 15 calendar days from the date they receive it. It has an additional USCIS fee of $1225. If USCIS cannot issue a decision, request for evidence or other notice within the 15-day period, USCIS will refund the $1,225 Premium Processing fee.

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How to Extend

Follow the same steps above.

CUMC departments should contact ISSO-CUMC.