Apply for a Change of Status to O-1

The IO only accepts O-1 requests from Northwestern sponsoring departments. The host department will collect information from the prospective O-1 and provide all of the documents to the International Office (IO) in one file.  The IO advisor will then review the documents and will work with an immigration attorney, the department, and the prospective O-1 beneficiary to file the petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Instructions for incoming O-1 beneficiaries

1. Submit required documentation to your host department

Your host department must submit your forms and documents (listed below) along with its own documents as a complete package to the IO:

  • Copy of passport biographical page
  • Current curriculum vitae (CV)

If you once held a J-1 visa:

  • Copies of proof of J-1 status such as J1 visa stamp(s), DS-2019(s)

If you are subject to the 212(e) two-year residency requirement:

  • Copy of waiver recommendation
  • Copy of I-612
  • Proof that you fulfilled the requirements by living and working in your home country for a full two years

NOTE: Individuals subject to 212(e) 2-year residence requirement are eligible for O-1 classification although s/he is not eligible to change from J to O status within the U.S. and must apply for an O visa abroad and re-enter in O-1 status.

If you have dependents in the U.S., they should:

Questions? Contact the International Office or departmental contact.

2. The IO reviews materials for the O-1’s visa application

  • IO reviews the paperwork and emails you and the department if any additional documents are necessary.

3. Preparation and filing of the O-1 petition

  • Upon IO approval, you will select from a list of immigration attorneys to work with for the remainder of your case.
  • The immigration attorney will work with you, the department, and the IO to gather the evidence of extraordinary achievements and to file the petition.

4. Notice of Receipt and Approval Notice from USCIS

You must receive the Approval Notice from USCIS before employment in O-1 status at Northwestern can begin.

  • Within approximately two to three weeks, the attorney will notify beneficiary, the IO and the department confirming a receipt notice of the filing.
  • Expect a decision within three to four months of the filing, unless the petition was filed using premium processing. The attorney will notify the beneficiary, department and the IO of the decision, and if it is approved, will forward the notice.

5. Arrival and check-in

You must retrieve your Approval Notice documents from the IO and present the original to the Payroll Office prior to starting employment in O-1 status.

Instructions for host departments

1. Collect required documents and submit them to the IO

In addition to the packet of documents submitted by the applicant (listed above), the host department is responsible for the following items:

  • O-1 Department Authorization Form
  • Offer Letter, including the O-1’s start/end dates, annual salary, and job title
  • Official University position confirmation, which must cover dates of requested O-1
    • For faculty: faculty appointment letter;
    • For research staff: research staff appointment

Please note: Sponsoring department is responsible for USCIS fees. The attorney costs (varies by attorney and case) can be divided based on a pre-arranged agreement between the department and the O-1 beneficiary.

Questions? Contact the International Office.

2. The IO reviews materials for the O-1’s visa application

  • IO reviews the paperwork and emails the department and beneficiary if any additional documents are necessary.

3. Preparation and filing of the O-1 petition

  • Upon IO approval, the beneficiary will select from a list of immigration attorneys to work with for the remainder of the case.
  • The immigration attorney, the department, the beneficiary, and the IO work together to gather the evidence of extraordinary achievements and to file the petition.

4. Notice of Receipt and Approval Notice from USCIS

  • Within approximately two to three weeks, the attorney will notify beneficiary, the IO and the department confirming a receipt notice of the filing.
  • Expect a decision within three to four months of the filing, unless the petition was filed using premium processing. The attorney will notify the beneficiary, department and the IO of the decision, and if it is approved, will forward the notice.

NOTE: Change of Status applicants must retrieve his or her Approval Notice documents from the IO and present the original to the Payroll Office prior to starting employment in O-1 status.