O-3 Visas for The Family of O-1 and O-2 Work Visa Holders

How spouses and children can obtain O-3 visas to accompany an O-1 or O-2 work visa holder to the United States.

The O-3 visa is designed to allow the spouses and children (unmarried, under the age of twenty-one) to accompany a family member who holds an O-1 or O-2 visa to the United States. The amount of time the O-3 visa holder can spend in the United States is the same as allowed to the O-1 or O-2 visa holder on this nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, which can be for up to three years at a stretch, with unlimited extensions. However, O-3 visa holders will not be permitted to work while in the United States.

There are no limits on the numbers of O-3 visas that are given out each year.

Eligibility Criteria for an O-3 Visa

In order to qualify for an O-3 visa, the applicant must qualify as the immediate family member of an O-1 or O-2 visa applicant or visa holder -- and be able to prove that fact. Also, as with every visa applicant, the person can be refused if he or she is "inadmissible" to the U.S., most likely based on a criminal record. For more on this topic, see "Who Can't Get Into The United States - Inadmissibility Laws."

To get the primary, O-1 visa, the applicant must have extraordinary abilities in the sciences, education, business, athletics, or the arts (including the television/motion picture industry). To get an O-2 visa, the person must have a job as a support person to an O-1 athlete or entertainer, and possess the essential skills to assist that person in his or her activities and/or events. Note that O-2 visas are not available to support personnel of O-1 visa holders who are in the fields of science, business, or education.

O-3 Visa Application Process

In order to apply for an O-3 visa, you will first need to wait until the U.S. employer of your spouse or parent (the O-1 visa applicant) submits a "visa petition" on Form I-129 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your spouse/parent and you are already in the U.S. (lawfully), that application can simultaneously ask that your status be adjusted to O visa holder. If you're overseas, then you'll next need to wait until the visa petition is approved.

At that point, you'll need to take the approval to your nearest U.S. consulate and apply for the O visa. You can either let your spouse or parent submit the visa application ahead of you, and wait to make sure it's approved before filing for your O-3; or the whole family can file their visa applications all at once.

The costs of applying for an O-3 visa include a visa petition fee to USCIS (which the employer should pay) and a machine-readable visa (MRV) processing fee (paid at the U.S. consulate). All such fees are nonrefundable. You may also need to pay a visa reciprocity fee, depending on agreements between your country and the United States. To check on the required fee(s) at the consulate, see the "Fees for Visa Services" page of the U.S. State Department's website.

O-3 Visa Documents Needed

The documents you'll need to show in applying for an O-3 visa include:

  • copy of approval notice from O-1 or O-2 spouse or parent's Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
  • birth or marriage certificate proving family relationship
  • one color photo, U.S. passport-style (use a professional photographer)
  • proof of having completed State Department Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, online.

O-3 Visa Extension Rules

An O-3 visa is initially granted for a period of up to three years, or the same time period for which the corresponding O-1 or O-2 visa is granted.  USCIS may grant extensions of the O-1 or O-2 visa in increments of one year, depending on the time needed to complete the specified events and/or activities. It will typically issue corresponding time extensions  to the O-3 visa holder as well.

Can O-3 Visa Holders Convert to U.S. Permanent Residents?

Holding an O-3 visa does not in any way lead to a green card. However, being in the U.S. may give your spouse or parent, or you, a chance at making the connections that will help you qualify for a U.S. green card, perhaps based on employment. For further information on who is eligible for a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence), see "U.S. Green Card Eligibility Quiz."

An experienced immigration lawyer can help in achieving a quick and easy resolution to your visa application process.  As visa procedures and required documentation can be complicated, it is wise to contact an immigration attorney for assistance.

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