Making the Leap! Navigating the Path From F-1 Student to O-1 Artist of Extraordinary Ability

The common wisdom is that arts or film students on F-1 visas (while either studying or while working on OPT) cannot possibly amass the credits and achievements to qualify for an O-1 visa.

The common wisdom is often wrong. In many cases, international artists in F-1 Status have everything or close to everything it takes to transition to an O-1 visa.

Do the following apply to you?

  • Even before you began school in the US, you were already accomplished in your field. So many accomplished people come to study in the US, but already have a strong record of achievement.

  • Your achievements while you are in school were quite significant. You had exhibitions, performances, films or published works during the time you are in school. Just because you were in school does not mean your work is not important.

  • Your achievements while you are on OPT are also noteworthy. We always urge people to make the most of their time in OPT to build a strong record to support an O-1 visa.

We strongly advise students who wish to transition to an O-1 visa to take the following steps:

  • First, if you haven’t already, revisit the courage and audacity that brought you to the US in the first place. Remember the reasons you came here. This will fire you up for the challenges ahead.

  • Talk to the international students' office at your school so that you fully understand the OPT process. They are experts who are there to help you!

  • Next, seek the guidance of the right lawyer to handle the petition. Find a lawyer who is highly experienced in O-1 visa petitions, experienced in representing clients in F-1/OPT status and sympathetic to F-1/OPT students in the arts and film. An experienced attorney who is supportive of you career achievements is critical.

  • Finally, meet with your lawyer early in your OPT period to make sure you know what you need to do, to use your OPT period well and focus on gathering proof of the O-1 visa requirements.

What are the O-1 requirements? See our related blog post:

Contact us when you are ready to talk about the transition to an O-1 visa!

Photo by Gabriel Sanchez on Unsplash

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