The H-1B and O-1 visas are two types of temporary work visas that are available to foreign nationals who possess the right skill set and experience and who are seeking to work in the U.S.

The H-1B visa is a good fit for foreign nationals who are in the beginning to middle stages of their careers who are hoping to expand their experience by working in the U.S. On the other hand, the O-1 visa is generally better suited for people who are advanced in their professions.

Keep reading to learn more about the O-1 vs. H-1B visas to find out which one is the best option for you to pursue.

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What Is The O-1 Visa?

O-1 visas are rewarded to immigrations who display “exceptional” skills and abilities in their field. Within the O-1 visa, there are two categories: the o-1A and the O1B.

O-1A Requirements

To be eligible for an O-1A visa, the foreign national must display exceptional ability in the sciences, business, education, or athletics.

O-1B Requirements

For O-1B eligibility, the foreign national must display exceptional ability in the entertainment business, motion picture, or TV industry.

Application Process

Your employer must file an appeal on your behalf for the O-1A visa. They can do so by sending Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers to USCIS, along with proof of your extraordinary abilities via certificates, awards, newspaper clippings, verifications by a highly acclaimed organization.

Your employer must send the application to USCIS at least 45 days before your planned start date in the U.S.

Next, your employer will have to file Form DS-160 and pay the visa fee of $190.

Once your forms are received, processed, and approved, you will have to schedule an interview with the U.S. Embassy. Once your interview is scheduled, you will get an interview confirmation letter that you must bring with you to the Embassy. You should also bring all essential documents and evidence to your interview.

Processing Time

Once your interview is complete, you must wait for your visa to be processed. This process typically takes between two to three months. But, if you need your visa ASAP, you can pay $1,225 for premium processing. This reduces your processing time to 15 days.

Application Costs

The fee for O1 visa cost application is $190. If you want to speed up your processing time, you can pay an additional $1,225. You should also account for administrative fees such as passport photo cost, and the cost of translation, printing, faxing, and attorney fees.

What Is The H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is available for all migrants who wish to do any of the following jobs temporarily in the U.S:

  1. Specialty occupations
  2. Department of Defense cooperative research and development project
  3. Services as a successful fashion model

The H-1B visa allows migrants to stay in the United States for an extended period of three years that can be extended for a maximum six-year stay.


The minimum requirement for the H-1B and H-1B2 visa is a U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a foreign institution.

An additional requirement for the H-1B3 visa is that the foreign national is recognized nationally or internationally by the media and industry insiders as a successful fashion model without the need to work in a specialty occupation or possess a bachelor’s degree.

Application Process

The application process for the H-1B visa is as follows:

  1. Submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to be approved by the Department of Labor (Required for H-1B and H-1B3.
  2. Employer submits Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
  3. Apply for the visa at a U.S. embassy
  4. If your Form I-129 is approved, USCIS will forward your case to the U.S. embassy closest to your home country.
  5. You will undergo consular processing and an interview. Additionally, a medical exam and biometric screening may be required.

Processing Time

The processing time for the H-1B visa takes an average of six months or more. This is why it’s important to start early and work with a licensed attorney to improve your chances of approval and reduce the chances of delays.

Application Costs

The standard H-1B filing fee is $460. There are additional costs to consider, including attorney fees, premium processing fees, the cost of transaction and other administrative fees, and more.

O-1 vs. H-1B

There are a few main differences that set the O-1 and H-1B visas apart, including:

Duration Of Application

The application window for H-1B visas begins in April. But, you will likely have to wait until October for the visa to become effective. This delay is what makes the processing times for H-1B visas generally longer than O-1 visas.

What’s more, you can apply for an O-1 visa any time of year so long as the gap between the application and employment dates is less than one year. O-1 visas are typically automatically effective once the application is approved.

Duration Of Validity

There is only one limitation on the length of validity for O-1 visas, and that’s how long the recipient’s project is. Extensions can be granted for projects that last longer than the three-year admission.

The H-1B visa has an initial maximum validity of three years that can only be extended up to six years. After the six years, people wanting to continue working in the U.S. have to return to their home countries for at least one year and really for an H-1B visa.

Volume Of Applicants

In 2018, the U.S. government issued nearly 180,000 H-1B visas and 17,000 O-1 visas. In general, simply satisfying the O-1 visa requirements is enough to obtain one, whereas H-1B applications are selected via a lottery process in order for their applications to be processed.

Green Card

The H-1B and the O-1 visa do not guarantee a Green Card upon approval. But, since given similarities between the O-1 and EB-1 visa, O-1 holders typically have a better chance at receiving a Green Card than H-1B holders do.

Meeting The Requirements

As we mentioned, the minimum required for H-1B visas is a college degree or equivalent. New graduates can easily apply for H-1B visas while only seasoned professionals and experts with years of experience in their respective fields can qualify for an O-1 visa.

How To Choose Between The O-1 & H-1B Visas?

Use this post as a guide to help you learn the differences in the O-1 and h-1B visas, requirements, costs, and application processes. An experienced immigration attorney can also help you decide which visa you are most qualified for and which visa will benefit you and your employer the most.

Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!

Looking for an expert to help guide you through the visa application process? Has your visa been denied or you’re unsure where to start? Contact Attorney Eric Price Today. Attorney Price is an immigration expert who diligently guides clients through the entire process from point a to point b — helping countless families live out their American dreams. Contact attorney price today at 1.855.662.2772.

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