O-3 for O visa dependents

The O3 visa is the category for dependents of O-1A, O-1B and O-2 visa holders, including spouses and children, to come to the USA.

We look at some of the commonly asked questions about the O3 visa, covering eligibility requirements, permissible activities and the application process.

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What is the O-3 visa?

The O3 visa is one of three visas in the O classification:

  • O-1 visa: for individuals who can demonstrate extraordinary talent in their profession and have a qualifying job offer in the US
  • O-2 visa: for key personnel of O-1 visa holders
  • O-3 visa: for immediate, dependent family members of O-1s and O-2s

The O-3 is a temporary visa, allowing the holder to enter and live in the US within certain visa conditions.

O-3 visa status is linked directly to the status of the principal visa holder.

O-3 visas are granted the same validity as the principal visa; O-1 and O-2 visas are initially issued for 3 years.

Who is eligible for the O-3 visa?

The O-3 is open to non-US spouses and unmarried children below 21 years of either O-1 or O-2 visa holders.

Importantly, the O-3 does not extend to other relatives of O-1s or O-2s, such as parents.

O-3 applicants will need to prove in their application and interview that the principal visa holder has valid O status and that their relationship as a spouse or child of the principal visa holder is genuine.

You must also be otherwise eligible for admission into the United States, such not having a criminal conviction or having previously breached any past US visa conditions.

What can O-3 holders do?

Certain rules apply to O-3 visas, governing what they can – and cannot do – while in the US.

With an O-3 visa, you are allowed to enter and live in the US with your family. You can travel outside of the US on short trips and reenter without much restriction. You can get a driver’s license, open a bank account and enrol in full or part time study. You can also travel in and out the US for short trips.

You cannot however work while in the US, or get a social security number. You are also not allowed to stay for longer in the US than the principal visa holder, unless they have applied to and secured an adjustment of status from the O classification and you are able to rely on this change of status as a dependent.

Can O-3 visa holders transfer status?

It is possible for O-3 visa holders to transfer their status where they are eligible. For example, to work in the US, you may look at transferring to the H-1B visa, provided you meet the relevant visa requirements.

Does the O-3 lead to a US Green Card?

Because O-3 status is tied directly to that of the principal visa holder, O-3 holders can only apply for US permanent residence if the O-1 visa holder is making the same application.

The O-2 visa does not offer a path to a US Green Card, and the visa holder must leave the US on visa expiry. The same rules applies to their dependent O-3 visa holders. In this case, the only route to permenant residence for the O-3 would be to secure new status in a category that can lead to a Green Card such as the H-1B.

How do I apply for an O3 visa?

As with any US nonimmigrant visa, applicants first complete the online form, DS-160, providing personal information and details of the reason for travel and stay. The fee is then paid and an interview arranged at a US consular post in the country where the application is being made.

O-3 applications can be made at the same time as the principal visa application (O-1 or O-2) or after the principal visa has been granted. If concurrent, applicants can schedule to be interviewed together.

If being made separate to the principal application, the O-3 applicant will have to wait until the O-1 or O-2 visa has been granted before their O-3 application can be started.

The petition processing fee for the O3 visa is $190.

Which supporting documents for the O-3?

In addition, applicants should also prepare a bundle of documentation to take with them to their visa inteview in case the adjuducating officer has questions of requires proof of eligibility.

Applicants will be asked to bring certain documents to the interview. This will include: the confirmation page from the DS-16o form and proof of fee payment, form I-797 Notice of Approval, valid passport, photograph (compliant with US visa regulations), interview confirmation letter and proof of the principal visa holder’s valid visa and relationship to the principal visa holder.

How long is the O-3 visa processing time?

O-3 visa processing times are around 6 weeks to 3 months, but can vary depending on the consular workload and the complexity and quality of the application.

Can the O-3 visa be extended?

It is possible to apply for an O-3 visa extension only where the principal O-1 or O-2 visa is doing the same (use Form I-539). Extensions are available in the O classification in incremenents of 12 months, with no limit on the number of extensions that can be applied for – provided continued eligibility is evidenced.

NNU Immigration can help with your O-3 visa

NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys with particular expertise in the O visa category.

We help exceptional talent visa holders, their family and key personnel make the move the US, handling all aspects of the visa application process.

The supporting documents will need to provide compelling evidence of eligibility against increasing scrutiny from consular adjudicators, and applcation timing will be critical to avoid lengthy separation of loved ones and facilitate a smooth transition for family members to the US.

If you have a question about an O-3 visa application, please contact us for advice.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.