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O3 Visa

The O3 visa allows individuals who are the spouse or children of an O1A, O1B, or O2 visa holder to temporarily come to the United States in order to be with the O1A, O1B, or O2 visa holder. Thus, the O3 visa is only issued in connection with a validly issued O1 or O2 visa.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the O3 Visa?

To qualify for an O3 visa, an individual must be a spouse or an unmarried child under 21 years of age to an O1A, O1B, or O2 visa holder. The O1 or O2 visa holder who the O3 visa applicant is married or related to must be able to financially support the O3 visa applicant(s) while they are in the United States. Under the O3 visa, individuals can live in the United States as long as the O1A or O1B visa holder lives in the United States.

What is the process for obtaining an O3 visa?

The process for obtaining an O3 visa is driven by the employer of the potential O1 or O2 visa employee who is the spouse or parent of the O3 visa applicant(s).

  1. Step One: Employer Files Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

    The first step to obtain an O3 visa requires the U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or foreign employer to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the O1A, O1B, or O2 visa applicant’s behalf. Commonly, a U.S. agent who is inside the U.S. will file Form I-129 on behalf of the employer.

    When submitting Form I-129, the employer must include the required evidence showing the potential employee’s qualifications for the O1 or O2 visa. The employer or agent must not file the form I-129 more than one year prior to the date the employer needs the potential employee’s services. The USCIS recommends an employer or agent file the form I-129 at least 45 days prior to the date of employment.

  2. Step Two: USCIS Processes Form I-129

    Once the USCIS receives Form I-129, the employer or agent of the O1 or O2 applicant will receive the following in return:

    • A receipt notice confirming the petition was received;
    • A notice to appear for an interview, if required;
    • A biometric services notice, if applicable; and
    • A notice of decision.
  3. Step Three: Spouse and/or Children File Online Form DS-160

    The spouse or child O3 visa applicant must complete Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. This involves uploading a photo of the applicant that conforms to the U.S. Department of State photograph requirements. Once Form DS-160 is submitted, the employee must download and print the confirmation page showing Form DS-160 was completed and the filing fee paid. The confirmation page will need to be brought to the visa interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.

  4. Step Four: Schedule Interview and Biometrics Appointment

    When Form I-129 is approved, the USCIS will send Form I-797, Notice of Action. This may include with it a notice to appear for an interview and a biometric services appointment. The O3 applicant is responsible for scheduling and appearing for his or her interview and biometrics appointment.

  5. Step Five: Attend Interview and Biometrics Appointment

    If requested, the O3 applicant must attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, where an official will evaluate the applicant’s documentation and ask questions pertaining to why the applicant is seeking the O3 visa, including about the applicant’s relationship with the O1 or O2 visa applicant/holder. The O3 visa applicant may be able to schedule the interview to take place at the same time as the O1 or O2 visa applicant’s interview. Similarly, the O3 applicant may be able to schedule the biometrics appointment to take place at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate when the visa interview is scheduled.

    Before attending the interview, the O3 applicant should compile certain documentation to bring with them to the interview.

    The documents listed below must be brought with the O3 visa applicant to the interview:

    • Confirmation page for Form DS-160;
    • Passport valid for travel to the United States that will remain valid for at least six months beyond the visa holder’s period of stay in the United States;
    • Application fee payment receipt;
    • Contract or letter of employment that confirms the O1 or O2 visa applicant’s upcoming employment;
    • The O1 or O2 visa holder’s form I-797;
    • A copy of the O1 or O2 visa holder’s passport;
    • A copy of the O1 or O2 visa holder’s visa;
    • A photograph that conforms to U.S. visa photo requirements;
    • The interview confirmation letter;
    • Proof of the applicant’s relationship with the O1 or O2 visa holder:
      • Valid marriage certificates for a spouse;
      • Valid birth certificate for children

Can O3 visa holders study while in the United States?

Yes. O3 visa holders may study full-time or part-time while in the United States so long as the original conditions of the O3 visa are adhered to. If the educational program lasts longer than the period of validity for the O3 visa, the visa holder should apply for a student visa that would permit them to remain in the United States for the purpose of completing their education. Continuing education is not a valid basis for extending the O3 visa.

Can O3 visa holders work in the United States?

No. O3 visa holders are not permitted to work or earn income in the United States. Individuals who are in the United States on an O3 visa and want to work must apply for and receive a work visa before beginning any work in the U.S. Individuals who impermissibly work in the United States will face penalties and consequences from U.S. immigration officials, including deportation and losing visa status. Due to this work limitation, the O3 visa will only be granted when it can be shown that the O1 or O2 visa holder is able to financially support the O3 visa applicant(s) while in the United States.

Can O3 visa holders apply for a green card?

It depends. O3 visa holders who are in the United States in connection with an O1 visa holder may seek a green card if the O1 visa holder seeks a green card. However, O3 visa holders who are in the United States in connection with an O2 visa holder may not seek a green card. This is because “dual intent” is not permitted for O2 visa holders, and is thus not permitted for O3 visa holders married or related to an O2 visa holder. Dual intent means that a visa holder must show that they are maintaining residency in their home country throughout the duration of the O2 visa, and have no intent to abandon their residence abroad.

For how long is the O3 visa valid?

The O3 visa is valid for the same length of time as the O1 or O2 visa it is connected to. Generally, O1 and O2 visas are valid for up to three years. Extensions are available for up to one year; however, the exact length of time will be determined based on how long it will take the O1 or O2 visa holder to accomplish the event or activity for which they seek U.S. entry.

O3 visa holders may be in the United States 10 days prior to the beginning of their validity period, and 10 days after.

O3 visa holders who need to extend their stay in order to remain in the United States with their O1 or O2 family member must file the following documents with USCIS:

  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker;
  • A copy of your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record; and
  • A statement explaining the reasons for the extension.

How much does it cost to get an O3 visa?

The application fee when filing Form I-129 is $460, which is commonly paid by the employer. The cost to file Form DS-160 is $160.

An applicant can pay $2500 for premium processing, which expedites the application process.

If an O1 or O2 visa holder’s employer terminates his or her employment for any reason other than the visa holder’s voluntary resignation, the employer must pay the reasonable cost of return transportation, including for any O3 visa holders, to their last place of residence before entering the United States.

Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.