The O visa category is for persons with exceptional skills and abilities, including the family and staff of those persons. The O-3 visa is one of three visas within the category, which includes all of the following:
O-1 Visa: For persons with exceptional ability in science, business, education, athletics, or art, including internationally-recognized individuals with indisputable talent in a particular field.
O-2 Visa: for the personnel and assistants of O-1 visa holders.
O-3 Visa: for the spouse and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.
The O-3 visa category is for the spouse and unmarried children of O-1 or O-2 visa holders. If your spouse or parent is arriving in the United States on an O-1 or O-2 visa, then you may qualify for an O-3 visa.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about O-3 visa processing times, the O-3 visa application process, and more.
How Does the O-3 Visa Work?
The O-3 visa allows the family of O-1 and O-2 visa holders to reside in the United States temporarily. The O-1 and O-2 visa is granted for a three year period. Thanks to the O-3 visa, the family of the O-1 and O-2 visa holder can remain together in the United States for the duration of the visa.
The visa is available to the following two categories of individuals:
- The spouse of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder
- The unmarried children under 21 years of age of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder
You may want to bring your parents and other close relatives to the United States with you. Unfortunately, the O-3 visa does not include these individuals. It is exclusively reserved for your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age. However, other family members may qualify for a different U.S. visa – like a general B-1 or B-2 visa.
Under the O-3 visa, the spouse and children of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder can live in the United States for as long as the O-1 or O-2 visa holder lives in the United States. You can travel in and out of the United States as many times as you like. As long as you enter the United States with or after the O-1 or O-2 visa holder, and your O-3 visa remains active, you can enter and leave as many times as you wish.
The O visa category is designed for people with exceptional abilities. The O-1 visa allows individuals with exceptional ability in science, athletics, arts, and more to enter the United States to work. The O-2 visa, meanwhile, is for the assistants and staff of an O-1 visa holder. In order to qualify for an O-3 visa, your spouse or parent must be an O-1 or O-2 visa holder.
During the time that the O-3 visa holder is in the United States, the individual can open a bank account, get a driver’s license, and enroll in part-time or full-time studies.
One of the major restrictions with an O-3 visa is that the O-3 visa holder is not permitted to work in the United States. This is unlike certain other dependency visas, which allow visa holders to work as long as they receive an Employment Authorization Document. This is not the case with the O-3 visa.
Once the O-1 or O-2 visa expires, then the O-3 visa expires as well. You must return to your home country once your O-3 visa expires.
O-3 Visa Requirements
The major O-3 visa requirements include:
- Your spouse or parent must have a valid O-1 or O-2 visa
- You must be the lawful spouse or unmarried child under 21 of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder
- You must have documents proving your relationship to the O-1 or O-2 visa holder, including a marriage certificate (if applying as a spouse) or a birth certificate (if applying as a child)
Beyond these requirements, there are no specific criteria required for O-3 visa holders. This is a dependency visa, which means most of the specific requirements fall on the O-1 and O-2 visa applicant – not the dependents they bring to the United States under the O-3 visa.
How to Apply for the O-3 Visa
The O-3 visa application process is more straightforward than the O-1 and O-2 visa application. Most of the heavy lifting is done by the O-1 and O-2 visa applicant, while the O-3 visa is just a dependency visa. Nevertheless, the O-3 visa applicant still needs to complete several crucial steps, including:
Step 1) Complete Form DS-160
Form DS-160 is the standard form for all non-immigrant visa applicants wishing to reside in the United States temporarily – whether on a dependency visa or a general visitor’s visa. Complete form DS-160 accurately, then submit it and receive your confirmation page. You can find the application form for DS-160 on the website of your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
Step 2) Pay the Visa Application Fee
The O-3 visa application fee is $190. This fee must be paid in order to move forward with your application. You will need to provide proof that you paid your application fee in order to schedule an interview with your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
Step 3) Schedule Your Visa Interview
Once you have paid the fee and submitted form DS-160, you can schedule your visa interview with your local U.S. embassy or consulate. The interviewer will verify the information on your application and make the final determination as to whether or not you are eligible to enter the United States.
Step 4) Collect Required Documents Prior to Your Interview
Before your U.S. embassy interview begins, you will want to collect the required documents to support your O-3 visa application process. Typical documents required for an O-3 visa application include:
- Valid passport
- A photograph that complies with U.S. visa photo requirements
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Receipts proving you have paid your fees
- Embassy interview confirmation letter
- Form I-797 from the O-1 or O-2 visa holder
- Copy of O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s passport
- Copy of O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s visa
- Proof of your relationship with the O-1 or O-2 visa holder, including a birth certificate or marriage certificate
- Documents proving you intend to return to your home country once your O-3 visa expires
Step 5) Attend the Interview
Arrive at your local U.S. embassy or consulate to complete the interview. Your fingerprints will be taken. Then, you will sit down for an interview with a member of the consular staff. The interviewer will verify the information on your application before determining whether or not you are eligible to enter the United States. The interviewer may ask questions about your relationship to the O-1 or O-2 visa holder, and you may be required to provide proof of your relationship.
How Long Does It Take to Process the O-3 Visa?
It takes approximately 4 to 12 weeks to process an O-3 visa, which is similar to the processing times for an O-1 or O-2 visa.
Typically, the O-1 and O-2 visa application process begins within six months of the expected date of arrival in the United States (and no later than 45 days prior to the date of arrival).
How Long Does My O-3 Visa Last?
Typically, the O-1 and O-2 visas are granted for a three year period, which means your O-3 dependency visa will be granted for a similar three year period.
You must arrive in the country with or after the O-1 or O-2 visa holder. If the O-1 or O-2 visa expires, then you must return to your home country.
O-3 visa holders can apply for an extension. If the O-1 or O-2 visa holder wants to continue working in the United States and applies for an extension, then you can also apply for an extension by filing form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status. Extensions are available in one-year increments and there is no limit on the number of times you can apply. However, the O-1 or O-2 visa holder must be eligible for an extension in order for you to apply for an extension.
Can I Work in the United States with an O-3 Visa?
The O-3 visa does not permit you to work in the United States. Unlike certain other dependency visas, you cannot apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and legally work in the United States.
You can, however, find an employer willing to sponsor you for a different work visa – like an H-1B visa. If you find an employer willing to sponsor you for an H-1B visa and get approved, then you can continue working in the United States entirely separate from the O-1 or O-2 visa holder.
Can I Get a Green Card with an O-3 Visa?
The O-3 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows you to temporarily reside in the United States as the family or spouse of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder. The O-3 visa is not typically a path to a green card.
However, it’s possible for certain O-1 visa holders to apply for a green card through the EB-1 program, which is available to individuals with exceptional talent who wish to establish permanent residence in the United States. If the O-1 visa holder is approved for an EB-1 visa, then the family – including the spouse and unmarried children – of the visa holder will also be approved.
If you are in the United States as a dependent of an O-2 visa holder, however, then this path is not available to you, as the O-2 visa holder is unlikely to be eligible for an EB-1 visa.
The only other way to get a green card and establish permanent residence with an O-3 visa is to find an employer willing to sponsor you for an H-1B visa. Otherwise, an O-3 visa is not typically a path to establishing permanent residence in the United States.
By following the guide above, you can enjoy a smooth and painless O-3 visa application process prior to arriving in the United States.