The O-1 non-immigrant category is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. 
The O-1 category requires considerable documentation, and is best reserved for the most highly qualified professors, researchers, and artists with a high level of expertise (i.e., top in their field). The level of paperwork required for this category is similar to the permanent residency application. O-1 status permits concurrent employment, but each employer must apply for a separate petition. O-1 status can be granted for a maximum initial period of three years, with one-year extensions possible indefinitely.   
The O-1 approval is employer and position specific. Individuals already in the U.S. wishing to change from another non-immigrant category to O-1, or who are already in O-1 status at a different employer, will require UMass Lowell HR approval as well as subsequent USCIS approval before employment start date.  
There are significant employer fees associated with the O-1 process, totaling approximately $7,000 between attorney fees and government filing fees.  The employer is responsible for the cost of the petition, and employee is responsible for all dependent related costs, as well as any visa application and port of entry fees for themselves and their dependents, when applicable. Depending on the position offered to the prospective employee will dictate who within the University at large will be required to pay the aforementioned fees.
UMass Lowell would typically assess a prospective employer’s eligibility for an O-1 visa only if an H-1B would not be possible. In the vast majority of cases, UMass Lowell will pursue the H-1B visa process rather than the O-1 if possible.
Should you have any questions related to UMass Lowell’s O-1 policies and practice, or if you are a prospective employee who may require O-1 visa sponsorship, please contact Patrick Trouve, HR Immigration & Compliance Specialist at This process is very involved, requiring a great deal of information and documentation to move along, and could take several months to ultimately obtain an approval. Please plan accordingly, contacting our office appropriately.
O-1 Grace period – There is a 10-day grace period to prepare to depart the U.S. Additional time may be considered, under very limited circumstances. Check with an immigration attorney before remaining in the US any longer than 10-days beyond the expiration date of your O-1 approval notice or beyond your employment termination date, whichever comes first.
Dependents, spouse or children under 21 years of age (O-3 visa holders) are permitted to study in the U.S. so long as the program is incidental towards their maintenance of status. O-3 dependents are permitted to work in the U.S., though only for the petitioning employer or agency for which their status was obtained.  O-3 dependent immigration benefits are associated with O-1 maintaining legal status. O-3 dependents are advised to check with an immigration attorney before acceptance of any financial scholarships or with any other dependent-related questions.