US foreign worker visa header

How to Sponsor an O-1 Visa for your employee or contractor

Learn how to sponsor an O-1 work visa for your foreign worker in just four steps.

Jemima Owen-Jones
Written by Jemima Owen-Jones
May 23, 2024
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Key takeaways

  1. To sponsor an O-1 visa for a foreign worker, you must first check their eligibility, file a petition with the USCIS, and wait for the worker to submit and receive a successful visa application.
  2. The process involves navigating intricate legal procedures, extensive paperwork, and stringent regulations. Employers must remain current with immigration laws and regulations, which can be both time-consuming and demanding.
  3. Engaging a seasoned immigration service provider, such as Deel Immigration, can offer a fast-tracked and effortless approach to navigating the immigration process.

If you’re a company looking to hire or relocate foreign talent to the US, one of the best routes is to sponsor them for an O-1 visa. 

The O-1 visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. 

Employers love the O-1 because it allows them to hire and retain top talent without a minimum salary requirement or an annual cap like the H-1B.

There are two options for acquiring an O-1 worker visa in the US: You can become a visa sponsor and undertake the O-1 application yourself through your own US entity or use an immigration service provider to apply for an O-1 visa on your behalf.

The latter is more suitable for companies that want a hands-off approach to work permit procurement or do not have the proper sponsorship infrastructure to support a US work visa. 

💡 Deel is already a registered sponsor in the US and can hire and sponsor workers to provide services to your company through our employer of record (EOR) sponsorship model. We take on all liabilities associated with hiring the employee, sponsoring their visa, and handling the paperwork for their work permit application.

If you opt to do it yourself, here are the steps you must take:

1. Check employee eligibility criteria

The first step is to confirm the workers’ eligibility for the O-1 visa. You can use the Visa Wizard on the US Department of State website to determine which temporary work visa is right for the worker.

💡 Deel’s platform has a built-in visa eligibility checker so you can ensure the employee or potential new hire meets the visa requirements before proceeding with creating or updating their contract.

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2. File a petition with US citizenship and immigration services (USCIS)

Once you have confirmed the workers’ eligibility, you can file an O-1 petition with USCIS to sponsor them for a work visa. 

For the O-1 visa, the employer starts the process by filing Form I-129 with USCIS. The petition must include documentation of the job offer, the worker’s qualifications, and the employee’s biographical information. You can find filing instructions on the USCIS website.

The sponsoring company pays the petition filing fee for the O-1 visa. You can check fees here.

💡 Deel’s in-house team of immigration experts can handle the entire visa application process on your behalf. We’ll handle the endless paperwork, facilitate consular visa stamping, and provide dedicated one-on-one support for you, your candidate, and their family members (O-3 dependents).

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Discover which US visas Deel can support with our free immigration guide.

3. Await the foreign worker to submit a visa application and attend their interview

An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa. If the USCIS approves the petition, the foreign worker can apply for a visa stamp at a US consulate or embassy in their home country. 

The worker must submit a DS-160 visa application form by creating an account on the US Department of State website and submitting a copy of their valid passport and other supporting documents along with any associated application fees.  

💡With Deel Immigration, employers and applicants can track the application’s progress and receive status updates, expected completion dates, and personal notes, all viewable in the Deel dashboard and via email. 

Have a question for your case manager regarding a status update? No problem. Schedule a quick call, and they’ll be happy to help.  

Visa tracker

Once approved, the worker can schedule a visa interview at the US embassy or consulate in the country where they are applying for their visa. The consular officer will determine whether the worker is qualified to receive the visa stamp and travel to America under US immigration law.

💡 Should there be a backlog in visa stamping at your local consulate or embassy, Deel Immigration has a consular support service specializing in helping candidates get faster appointments for visa stamping.

4. Welcome the worker to the US

Once the visa is approved, the foreign worker will receive their travel documents and can travel to the US to work in the sponsored position under O-1 status. You must retain a copy of their work authorization in case the authorities audit you.

💡 Deel’s platform enables visa holders to upload their work authorization documents to the Deel platform, where they are verified by mobility specialists and securely stored. The worker can then commence onboarding ahead of their start date.

Get visa support from start to finish with Deel

No longer will you be left in the dark during the visa application process. Deel is re-inventing the immigration journey to make it stress-free and predictable for both workers and companies. 

Our global HR platform has everything you need to support your global team. You can:

  • Check a candidate’s visa eligibility before creating an contract
  • Sponsor a worker’s visa through your own US entity while Deel handles the application process end-to-end
  • Have Deel hire and sponsor your applicant’s visa if you don’t meet the sponsorship criteria
  • Oversee all company immigration activities and costs via your dashboard and receive reminders when work authorizations are due to expire or need renewal
  • Continue to support an employee’s journey to becoming a US citizen by supporting the green card for permanent residence
  • Create work contracts that comply with all local labor laws
  • Run background checks
  • Administer benefits and perks, including healthcare, equity, and retirement plans
  • Provision equipment and flexible coworking space memberships
  • Run global payroll
  • Manage your team with Deel Engage plugins for smooth onboarding, time off, pulse surveys, and more

Sound like the ideal solution?

Check out our immigration services or book a free consultation with an immigration expert to get your questions answered.

Why choose Deel Immigration_v1

Disclaimer: Be aware that this article is not a substitute for legal advice. Please always check official websites or seek legal advice before you take action.

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