The O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals who have extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. It is a highly sought-after visa, but it can also be difficult to obtain. One of the most common reasons for O-1 visa denials at the consulate is suspicions of immigrant intent.

What is Immigrant Intent?

Immigrant intent is the belief that an individual intends to stay in the United States permanently. US law requires consular officers to presume that all visa applicants have immigrant intent, and applicants must overcome this presumption.

O-1 Visa Denials and Immigrant Intent

Consular officers are increasingly denying O-1 visas on the grounds of immigrant intent. This is likely due to a number of factors, including the current political climate and the increasing number of O-1 visa applications. The country of origin of the applicant also plays an important role as well as the travel history of the applicant.

However, there are conflicting provisions in the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) which explicitly provide for an O-1 applicant to have “dual intent” (meaning they can in fact have plans to acquire a green card while acquiring or using an O-1 visa). The problem is that consular officials themselves are not always fully informed on these nuances and apply these provisions improperly.

Therefore, consultations with an experienced O-1 attorney are critical in order to challenge any possible denials at the consulate based on an applicant’s pursuit of a green card through another visa category while having the O-1. We should note that this applies only to O-1 applicants. O-2 applicants on the contrary must prove their non-immigrant intent and must show they have a residence overseas to which they plan to return at the expiration of their O-2 visa.

How to Protect Yourself as an O-1 Applicant

There are a number of things O-1 visa applicants can do to protect themselves from being denied on the grounds of immigrant intent. These include:

  • Gathering evidence of ties to their home country, such as property ownership, job offers, and family ties.
  • Avoiding making statements that could be improperly construed about the client’s plans and dual intent and used against them at the visa interview.
  • Working with an experienced immigration attorney to prepare their O-1 visa application.


If you are considering applying for an O-1 visa, it is important to be aware of the increasing number of denials on the grounds of immigrant intent. By taking the steps outlined above, you can increase your chances of having your O-1 visa approved.
If you have any questions about the new O-1 visa immigrant intent, or if you need help with your immigration options, schedule a call with our experienced O-1 immigration attorneys.

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