If you are a foreign data scientist looking for a way to transition from OPT, J1, H-1B to a visa with a more stable path to permanent residency, you might be a candidate for the O-1A visa. The O-1A visa is categorized as a nonimmigrant visa created for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
According to Glassdoor, in 2020, a Data Scientist position is the third most desired job in the US with more than 6000 openings and a median salary that is close to $100 K a year. However, there are more openings than native people or green card holders to fill out those positions, as is evident. Therefore, a new government proposal in 2016 changed the STEM OPT from 17- 24 months, which created more chances for talented international students to extend their stay.
However, after completing the STEM OPT, even if the company employing the foreign data scientist wants to sponsor, the chances of getting the H-1B status are limited, and the possibility to get the permanent resident or ”Green Card ” seems impossible. For this reason, the O-1A visa is a better choice for those exceptional individuals who fulfill its requirements as it will allow the petitioner to live and work in the US for three years and then extend indefinitely. After some time, O-1A visa holders can apply for a green card under the EB-1 visa petition.
O-1A Visa Eligibility
To be considered eligible to submit an O-1A visa petition, you need to make sure to fulfill 3 out of 8 from the following requirements:
- You have been featured in professional or high-profile trade publications or mainstream media.
- You had an excellent position inside a successful company
- You have served as a judge of others in the same (or closely related) field. This could either be individual or as part of a judging panel.
- You have a salary or an income that is approximately or more than 100 K per year.
- You are a member of at least one association whose membership requires outstanding achievement, judged by nationally or internationally recognized experts in the respective discipline.
- You have received national or international awards or prizes of excellence in their field.
- You have made original scientific, academic, or business contributions of major significance in their respective field.
- You have had articles published in professional trade publications.
Some of the requirements mentioned above seem hard to be fulfilled as most data scientists are not famous in the media or have made groundbreaking discoveries. However, a lot of them worked for successful companies like Amazon or Verizon, have an average salary of $100 k per year, and have published articles in journals or scientific magazines. Therefore, if you feel identified by the three criteria above, then congratulations, you might have enough requirements to start the process to petition an O-1A visa.
How to apply for O-1A Visa?
To begin the process, the US agent authorized by the beneficiary of the O-1A visa needs to file the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. At this stage, the petitioner needs to collect the necessary documentation that proves that at least three of the eight requirements are fulfilled for USCIS to process the petition. In some cases, more documentation and in-depth consultation on the validity of the documents could be requested.
The processing time could take from 4 to 16 weeks to receive an answer from USCIS regarding the petition. Therefore, Sethi & Mazaheri is here to help boost your case. Our firm has years of experience in making the process to apply for O-1A, O-1B, EB-1, and other types of visas as smooth as possible.
In the past, we have helped Data Scientists, Software Engineers, Machine Learning Specialists, and Business Intelligence researchers like you to prove their outstanding contribution to American society and to obtain the O-1A visa. We have a high success rating for candidates who are truly exceptional in their scientific field and who are looking to reach the American dream and being able to work in the US doing what they enjoy doing.
If you feel that after reading this article that you are a perfect candidate for O-1A visa, please do not hesitate to contact us at Sethi & Mazaheri. Our staff of attorneys and paralegals will be eager to start working on your case as soon as possible, and before you know it, the O-1A visa will be issued to you.