O-1 Compliance and Travel

Maintaining O-1 visa status

Address updates

If you change your residential address, please update this information with USCIS using form AR-11. Information can be found on the USCIS website.

For incoming O-1 applicants outside the U.S.

Northwestern can file the petition to sponsor an O-1 employee up to 1 year before employment begins but the beneficiary may only enter the U.S. up to 10 days before the start date on his/her O-1 Approval Notice.

O-1 visa holders coming to NU from outside the U.S. need to check-in with the IO before starting employment at NU. To do so, please complete the H-1B/E-3/O-1 Beneficiary Check-In Form and bring your immigration documents including your passport for the IO to photocopy and keep on file.

For O-1 visa-holders seeking extension

It is important to maintain your O-1 status by applying for an O-1 extension in a timely manner. Please communicate with your current supervisor/department about your O-1 extension.

If you have dependents in the U.S. please remember to file Form I-539 form to extend their O-3 status.

Concurrent employment

Multiple, or concurrent, O-1 employers are permitted, as long as each has an O-1 petition approved by USCIS.

Off-campus occasional lectures

O-1 beneficiaries are eligible to be issued reimbursement for transportation and reasonable incidental expenses incurred while traveling to off-campus lectures but s/he is not approved to be paid a wage, salary or honorarium for these services. Please contact an IO advisor for more information and for an approval letter.

O-1 Travel

The following documents are required.

Travel within the U.S.

  • Valid passport
  • Copy of O-1 approval notice

Traveling abroad

  • Original O-1 approval notice;
  • Valid passport (6 months into the future) with valid O-1 visa stamp;
  • Copy of your I-129 petition;
  • Updated employment verification letter from NU department stating that you are currently employed, dates of employment, salary, job title and brief description of job duties.

Travel for Dependents

When traveling, O-3 dependents should carry with him/her: a copy of the O-1 Approval Notice; copy of the O-1 petition most recently submitted to USCIS; as well as any other relevant documents related to O-3 status (Approval Notice, O-3 visa stamp); and a valid passport.

Expired visa stamps

If your O-1 visa stamp has expired, you must obtain a valid O-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S.

Status changes

If you are changing or extending your O-1 visa, you will need to obtain an O-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. in O-1 visa status.

  • This includes O-1 beneficiaries with a change of status (COS) within the U.S. who are currently in O-1 status with an Approval Notice. If the visa stamp is from another visa category (e.g. J-1), then he/she will have to obtain an O-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. in O-1 visa status.
  • If an O-1 beneficiary is traveling while an O-1 extension is pending and will be re-entering the U.S. close to the expiration date of his/her current O-1, he/she is encouraged to carry the documents listed above plus the extension Receipt Notice and copies of the extension petition with him/her while traveling.
  • If an O-1 beneficiary who is changing employers (COE) is traveling with a valid visa stamp from another employer, he/she is required to bring all of the documents listed above.

Border crossing

When crossing the U.S. border, be prepared to answer specific questions about your current O-1 petition. You may be asked about: the nature of your employment (i.e. NU department, job title); specific job duties (i.e. job description); exact work location; or salary.

Occasionally individuals are selected for secondary inspection for various reasons. If you are pulled into secondary inspection, please answer all questions directly, truthfully and to the best of your knowledge.