O1 visa to green card
O1 visa does not automatically lead to a green card. However, the O1 visa holder may have various green card options, including EB-1A extraordinary ability, EB-2 National Interest Waiver, EB-2 or EB-3 PERM sponsorship through a US employer, among other possibilities.
The EB1A “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” Green Card
The requirements for EB1A green card are similar to the requirements for an O1 visa. However, the EB1A qualifications are more stringent compared to the O1 qualifications. Because an O1 visa applicant qualified for the O1 visa does not automatically mean that they will qualify for the EB1A green card category.
On the plus side, the EB1A category is typically not backlogged, allowing you to apply for a green card immediately upon EB1A petition approval. Furthermore, EB1A allows self-petitioning. This means that the qualifying EB1A applicant can apply themselves without a US employer or a US job offer.
The EB2 NIW Green Card
The EB-2 National Interest Waiver green card (EB2 NIW) is for persons of exceptional ability or professionals holding advanced degrees who can demonstrate that their proposed endeavor is in the US national interest and that they are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.
Just like EB1A green card, EB2 NIW is typically not backlogged and allows self-petitioning.
O1 visa to green card processing time
The time it takes to apply from O1 visa to green card is largely based on the category of the green card the foreign national qualifies for. Some categories, such as EB1A (and soon EB2 NIW) qualify for premium processing. This can significantly expedite the application process, resulting in an approximate 12-20+ months timeline from O1 to green card.
On the other hand, if premium processing is not an option, or a certain category is backlogged or requires an extended processing procedure (such as EB2 PERM or EB3 PERM), then this can delay the green card processing time drastically.
The road to a green card can vary significantly for each person. If you are interested in learning about your options for switching your O1 to a green card one day, then talking to an experienced employment-based immigration attorney can be beneficial. An immigration attorney can evaluate your options and assist you with creating a plan for achieving your goal of US permanent residence.