What is the Cost to Apply for the O1 visa?
The cost to apply for, receive, and renew an O1 visa can range from hundreds of U.S. dollars to thousands, depending on a variety of situational factors specific to each applicant.
Below is a breakdown of the cost of the O1 visa for all types of situations. Calculate your cost by determining which factors apply to you.
The Cost to Apply
Form I-129: $460
Anyone who wants to come to the United States under a O1 visa must have their U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or foreign employer to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) on their behalf.
The application fee to file Form I-129 is $460, though this is commonly paid by the employer or agent who files Form I-129.
Compiling Evidentiary Documents: Cost Varies
When submitting Form I-129, the employer or agent must be able to prove that the applicant qualifies for the O1 visa. In order to prove eligibility, the applicant and their employer or agent must compile certain evidence.
The cost to find, compile, organize, duplicate, and submit such evidence can vary depending on the type of evidence the applicant wishes to use to prove eligibility, where that evidence is located, and what steps and associated costs are required of the applicant in order to compile the evidence. For example, an applicant may have to travel to acquire the evidence they need, or may need to pay costs related to organizing or making copies of the evidence.
It is recommended that potential applicants for the O1 visas assess and calculate the cost of compiling the evidentiary documents specific to their case before beginning the steps to acquire them for their application. This way, the applicant and his or her employer or agent will be prepared for this cost.
Form DS-160: $190 + Photo Costs
Anyone who wants to come to the United States under a O1 visa must complete and file the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 with the United States Department of State. The cost to do so is $190.
When submitting DS-160, the applicant must upload a photo of themselves that conforms to the U.S. Department of State photograph requirements. The cost of having a photograph of the applicant taken in conformity with State Department requirements can vary.
Biometric Screening Appointment Fee: $85
Applicants may receive a notice to attend a biometric screening appointment at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy near them. The cost of the biometric screening is $85.
Premium Processing: $2,500
O1 visa applicants may choose to have their petition reviewed under premium processing, which expedites the processing of Form I-129 to 15 days at most. The fee for premium processing is $2,500, though this fee will be refunded if the processing time lasts longer than 15 days.
The Cost to Extend or Renew O1 Visa
Applicants who need to extend or renew their O1 visa application will have to file a new Form I-129 prior to their current O1 visa expiration date. The cost to do so is the same cost of filing Form I-129 when the applicant first applied: $460.
O1 visa applicants whose family members have accompanied them in the United States (O2 and O3 visa holders) must have their family members file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with the USCIS. The cost to do so is $370.
The Cost to Change Employers Under the O1 Visa
O1 visa holders who wish to be employed by a different U.S. employer than the employer who originally petitioned on the O1 visa holder’s behalf must have their new U.S. employer file a new Form I-129 with the USCIS. The cost to do so is $460.
The Cost of Material Change in Employment
O1 visa holders who will see any material change in the terms and conditions of their employment or eligibility must have their employer or their agent file an amended Form I-129 with the service center where the original petition was filed. The cost to do so is $460.
The Cost to Change Nonimmigrant Status
O1 visa holders who wish to change their nonimmigrant visa status to another nonimmigrant visa will have to file Form I-539 with the USCIS. The cost to do so is $370.
The Cost of an Immigration Attorney
Because the O1 visa is given to only those applicants who can demonstrate they have an “extraordinary ability,” it can seem difficult to prove an applicant qualifies for the O1 visa. Hiring an immigration attorney can help alleviate the stress of applying for the O1 visa and can improve the applicant’s chances of having their application approved.
The cost of hiring an immigration attorney can vary, but is usually in the thousands of dollars. Some immigration attorneys may offer an hourly rate or a flat fee, which can affect the cost. An hourly rate or a flat fee may be preferential to an applicant, depending on the scope of the work the applicant wants their attorney to accomplish.
Immigration attorneys offer different fees based on a variety of factors that applicants should consider when determining who to hire, including the attorney’s experience and expertise, their caseload/number of clients, the difficulty of the work, and how time consuming the work is, among other factors. Applicants and their employer or agent should consider these factors when evaluating which attorney to hire, or whether to hire an immigration attorney at all. Many attorneys offer free consultations where they provide a fee schedule for their work.
How to Pay Fees to USCIS
Payment From Outside the U.S.
Applicants living outside the United States who want to submit their application for the O1 visa where they live should refer to the USCIS International Office or U.S. Consulate or Embassy nearest them in order to determine accepted forms of payment.
Payment From Inside the U.S.
Applicants living in the United States may pay their application fees using a credit card, check, or money order via the U.S. mail if the money is drawn from a U.S. financial institution. U.S. based credit cards may be used for the Form I-129 fee and the biometrics fee with no additional cost at the Vermont Service Center and California Service Center. Other service centers may not be able to accept a credit card.
Paying with Checks
Payment is accepted using a valid check, including cashier’s checks, personal checks, certified checks, and money orders. The funds must be drawn from a United States financial institution. Generally, checks must be submitted attached to the visa application in order for the check and application to be accepted and processed.
Does the USCIS Issue Refunds?
If you change your mind about needing an O1 visa after you have submitted an application and fee, you likely will not receive a refund even if you request one. This is because a part of what you’re paying for is the work that goes into reviewing application materials, and this process is already underway after you’ve requested a refund.
There are a few situations, however, where the USCIS will issue a refund – usually because you overpaid, paid for something you didn’t need to, or because the USCIS did not process your application as quickly as promised. For example, you may receive a refund if the USCIS had you complete a form and pay a fee that is not required for the O1 visa. Or, perhaps, the USCIS had you pay a fee that is higher than the true fee required. Finally, you are due a refund if you paid $2,500 for premium processing but the USCIS failed to process your application within the 15 day premium processing timeframe.
The Cost of Employment Termination
If an O1 visa holder’s employer terminates his or her employment for any reason other than the visa holder’s voluntary resignation, the employer must pay the reasonable cost of return transportation to the visa holder’s last place of residence before entering the United States.