Apply for an Initial 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)

Questions? Contact the International Office or departmental contact.

2. The IO reviews materials for the O-1 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 your 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 you, the IO, and your 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 you, your department, and the IO of the decision, and if it is approved, will forward the notice to you for use at the visa interview.

5. Apply for the O-1 visa at a US Consulate or Embassy

To apply for your O-1 visa, you will need to make an appointment with the U.S. Consulate/Embassy closest to your place of residence. Please be aware that it may take a few weeks to get an appointment. Allow additional time: two to three months if a background check is deemed necessary by the consular official.

Bring the following documents to your appointment:

  • Completed Visa Application Form, DS-160 (if applicable)
  • Original I-797 Approval Notice form
  • Copies of the O-1 (I-129) petition
  • Updated letter of employment from your NU department (necessary for renewing O-1 visas)
  • Application fee. Please check the US Consulate/Embassy website for details
  • If dependents are accompanying you, please make sure that you have birth certificates of your children; have an original marriage certificate, photographs of your wedding, invitations, etc. as proof of evidence.

Please check the US Consulate/Embassy website for any additional documents required by an individual consular post.

Note: If while applying for an O-1 visa stamp, your name is sent for a background check, there is very little the university can do to ameliorate the situation. However, if more than 60-days have passed since the date of application, and no information has been given regarding application status, please follow the instructions on the IO website regarding Visa Stamp Delay.

6. Arrival and check-in.

You must check in with the IO and then the Payroll Office upon arrival and prior to starting work. Learn more about check-in procedures. Please note that if you are arriving from outside the U.S., you may only enter 10 days or less before your O-1 start date.

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.