The group of O visas is made up of three types of US non-immigrant visas allowing people to go to the US to work. What makes the O visas very demanded is that they allow only people who have extraordinary abilities to stay in the US for employment. Extraordinary abilities mean that those who get this visa have talents, skills, and education that are not easily found.
To get one of the types of O visas, you must prove your abilities and talents, as well as have a valid job offer in the US from an employer. There are three types of O visas:
- O-1 visa: is designed for those who show expert knowledge in science, business, education, athletics, or art, including international recognition for their work
- O-2 visa: is designed for the personnel or assisting people of the O-1 visa holders
- O-3 visa: is designed for the spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders
This article will focus on the O-3 visa, its details on eligibility, application, and other relevant information.
What is the O-3 visa?
People who go to the US to work with an O-1 or an O-2 visa will be staying there for a minimum of 3 years. Many of them have families, spouses and children that they will be apart from during that period. That is why the US institutions created the O-3 visa, which allows the families of O-1 and O-2 visa holders to come to the US and stay with them.
However, not every member of the family qualifies for this visa. Only the spouse and unmarried children of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder can apply for the O-3 visa and be allowed to travel to the US. Many O visa holders want to also bring parents or other close relatives, but that is not possible and will not be allowed under the US visa rules.
With the O-3 visa, spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders can live in the US as long as their principal visa person is there. They can travel in and out of the US as many times as they want and will not have problems entering the country again. During the time that they are in the US, they can open bank accounts, get a driver’s license, and are not prohibited in living a normal life. Additionally, if the spouse or children want to get an American education, they can enroll in full or part time studies in the US.
The only restriction that O-3 visa holders have is that they are not allowed to work in the US. This means that they cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN) and even if they are able to find a job, are not allowed to legally work. If an O-3 visa holder is found working illegally, their visa as well as the principal visa holder (O-1 or O-2 visa holder) are at risk for deportation and may have problems getting visas for the US in the future.
Another important detail about the O-3 visa is that it is directly tied to the principal O-1 or O-2 visas. This means that O-3 visa holders cannot stay in the US longer than the principal visas, and they cannot apply for permanent residence without the principal person applying too.
What are the requirements for the O-3 visa?
The requirements to be eligible for the O-3 visa are as follows:
- Your spouse or parent must have an approved and valid O-1 or O-2 visa
- You must be the principal visa holder’s spouse or unmarried child under 21 years old
- You must be able to prove your relationship to the principal visa holder
Besides these requirements, there are no other specific conditions that O-3 visa applicants must fulfill. The most important condition in this case is that they must be able to prove that they are the spouse or child of the O-1 or O-2 visa holder.
How to apply for the O-3 visa?
To apply for the O-3 visa, there are several steps that you have to follow. You can apply together with the O-1 or O-2 principal visa holder or after they have gotten their visa. If you do not apply together, you must wait until the US Embassy gives your spouse or parent their O-1 or O-2 visa and then begin the application process. You must also apply at a US Embassy where you live.
Complete Form DS-160
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is the standard form that all non-immigrant applicants must fill. It can be found online and will ask you to provide personal information as well as the purpose of your visit. You must fill all the necessary spaces with accurate information and then submit the form. When you submit the form, it will generate a confirmation page and code which you will need to have with you in your document file.
Pay the visa fees
The visa application fee for the O-3 visa is $190. You must pay this fee in order to continue your application and for it to be processed further. In addition to the visa application fees, other fees might apply depending on the relationship of your country with the US. These are called issuance fees and the amount depends on your country of residence. After you have paid all the necessary fees, you must get receipts to prove you have completed them and attach them to your document file.
Schedule your visa interview
All visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old for the US must go through an interview process. The interviews are done at the US Embassy where you are applying and must be scheduled. Since US Embassies might have high workloads, you could end up having a long wait time. That is why it is important to schedule your visa interview as early as possible. If you are applying with the principal visa holder (O-1 or O-2 visa applicant), then you can schedule the interview together at the same time. Otherwise, you must schedule your own interview. After you have done this, you will get an interview confirmation letter which you need to bring on the day of your interview.
Prepare your document file
When you go in for your interview, you must have a file with documents to support your case. It is your chance to show the US Embassy why you should be given the O-3 visa. For this visa, you must have the following documents:
- Your valid passport
- One photograph which follows the US Visa Photo Requirements
- Your Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Receipts that you have paid your fees
- The interview confirmation letter
- The O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s Form I-797
- The O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s copy of passport
- The O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s copy of the visa
- Proof of your relationship with the O-1 or O-2 visa holder
- If you are the spouse, then you need a valid marriage certificate
- For children, you must submit a valid birth certificate
Attend the visa interview
For the visa interview, you must bring your documents file and you will be interviewed by an official at the US Embassy where you have applied. You will be asked questions regarding your background, education, and purpose of visit to the US. You must emphasize your relationship with the primary O-1 or O-2 visa holder. If your spouse or parent has an O-2 visa, you must also establish ties to your home country to prove that after your visa expires, you will return.
How long is the O-3 visa processing time?
The usual processing times for the O group of visas is two to three months. After the processing time, you will be notified whether you were given the visa or not. It is not encouraged for you to make travelling arrangements, such as purchasing place tickets before you are absolutely sure that you have been approved for the visa.
How long is the O-3 visa valid?
Since the O-3 visa is a dependents visa, you are completely tied to the principal visa holder, so either the O-1 or O-2 visa holder. Since O-1 and O-2 visas are initially issued for 3 years, the validity of your O-3 visa will be 3 years.
If the principal visa holder applies for an extension, you can also do the same by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Extensions are given in one year increments and there is no limit on how many times you can apply.
If you want to work in the US, you can try to change your status to a visa that allows you to work. This means that if you find a job in the US, you can apply to change your O-3 visa status to a different one, such as the H-1B visa. If your change of status is approved, you will not be tied to the principal visa holder, but can work in the US according to the rules of the other visa.
Can I get a Green Card with an O-3 visa?
Whether you can get permanent residence in the US with an O-3 visa depends on what type of O visa the principal person has. If the principal visa holder has an O-1 visa, then you can all apply for a Green Card. The O-1 visa holder qualifies for the EB-1 Green Card for extraordinary talents, and if they are approved, so is their family, meaning the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old.
However, if the principal visa holder has an O-2 visa, then you have been asked to establish ties to your home country and return once your visa expires. This means that neither the O-2 visa holder, nor you as their dependent with an O-3 visa are allowed to apply for a Green Card. To get the Green Card, you must change your status to a visa which allows dual intent, such as the H-1B visa.