What is an O3 visa?
The O3 is one of the visas available with the O nonimmigrant classification. It is a derivative visa for the spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of O1 and O2 visa holders. Successful applicants can live in the United States with O3 status. But they cannot work and earn an income.
O3 visa holders can travel in and out of the United States for short trips. There is no limit to the number of times they can travel. As long as the principal O1 or O2 visa holder has valid status, an O3 visa holder is always permitted to enter and stay in the United States. When the O1 or O2 visa holder loses their status, the O3 visa holders also lose their status.
However, O3 visa holders can request a change of status to a different permit to stay in the United States for a longer period. They can also apply for a Green Card and become legal permanent residents.
O3 Visa Eligibility:
To be eligible for an O3 visa application, there is only one important requirement you need to meet; You must be a close relative of an O1 or O2 visa holder. Immediate relative means the legitimate married spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.
You will need to show proof of a qualifying family relationship with the O1 or O2 visa holder. The O1 visa category is for foreign citizens with outstanding achievements and national or international recognition. They fall into two categories:
O1A: These are designated for foreign educators, scientists, sportsmen, and businesspeople.
O1B: These are for international artists in the field of art, film or TV.
The O2 visa is intended for O1 visa support staff.
Documents required for O3 visa:
At the interview you will need to provide original copies of the following documents:
- A valid international passport
- Passport photographs as per US visa requirements
- Form I-539 confirmation page for US applicants
- Form DS-160 Confirmation Page for Applicants from Foreign Countries
- Receipt of payment of fees
- Confirmation of the interview schedule
- O1 or O2 visa holder’s Form I-797
- Copy of the international passport of the O1 or O2 visa holder
- Copy of the visa of the O1 or O2 visa holder
- Proof of your relationship with the O1 or O2 visa holder; valid marriage certificate for the spouse and valid birth certificate for the children.
You will need to provide accredited translations for all your documents that are not in English.
O3 Visa Application Fees:
If you are submitting your application from outside the United States, the filing fee for Form DS-160 is $160. Please note that other associated fees may apply, which vary from one embassy/consulate to another.
If you are already in the United States and want to change your status to O3, the filing fee for Form I-539 is $379. The filing fee is the main fee you pay for your O3 visa application.
O3 Visa Application Process
The first step in the application process will depend on your current position. The visa application process for applicants who are already in the United States is different from those applying from outside the United States.
For applicants in the United States
If you are already in the United States on a different nonimmigrant visa, you should apply for an O3 visa along with your O1 visa application. The employer or sponsor of the main O visa beneficiary will sponsor your O3 visa.
For your application, you must submit Form I-539, Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status. The visa sponsor is also likely to pay the filing fees.
For applicants outside the United States
If you are in your home country, you can apply to the O1 visa applicant at the same time or apply after the O1 visa is approved. Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, must be submitted.
Next, you have to pay your taxes. After submitting your application, the embassy will only start processing if it confirms your payment. Your expenses could not end with the filing cost.
Depending on your country of residence, additional charges, such as issuing fees, may apply. It is important to keep a receipt for all fees paid. You will get an invitation for a visa interview from the embassy once you have completed the application and paid the necessary expenses.
This interview is usually mandatory for all applicants between the ages of 14 and 79. Embassies often have a busy workload throughout the year, so ideally you schedule your interview as early as possible. After planning, the embassy will send confirmation of the day and time of the interview.
You must bring original copies of all documents needed for the interview. Your interviews would very definitely be scheduled on the same day if you and your relative filed for the O1 visa at the same time.
O3 Visa Processing Time:
Processing O visa classifications, including O3, typically takes two to three months. You will receive a decision after the trial. At times, your application may also be delayed pending the submission and review of additional documents.
You can also check the status of your visa application while you wait on the CEAC website. It is not advisable to make travel preparations, such as purchasing airline tickets and booking tickets, until you are sure that your visa application has been approved.
Validity of the O3 visa
The O3 visa is a dependent visa; therefore the validity depends on the period of stay granted to the holder of the main visa (O1 or O2). This means that the validity of your visa will have the same end date as the primary beneficiary of the O visa.
O3 visa limitations include the inability to work. If you want to work in the United States, you will need to change your status to a work visa. If you’ve been offered a decent job, you can do this.
You can, for instance, convert your O3 visa to an H-1B visa. If your change of status request is successful, you will no longer be tied to the primary visa holder. Under the conditions of the other visa, you are permitted to work in the United States.
U.S. law allows an O1 nonimmigrant whose employment terminates a limited-use 60-day grace period. The grace period also extends to O3’s dependents. If work does not resume after 60 days and there is no reason for the O1 visa holder to remain in the United States, both O1 and O3 employees must leave.
Green Card Application
Typically, O3 visas cannot lead directly to a green card. Nevertheless, there could still be alternative ways for you to get a green card.
You can get a Green Card if the main visa holder has an O1 visa. This is because O1 visa holders can change their status to that of permanent resident and become green card holders. You will also obtain a green card and become a permanent resident if their application is approved.
There are various categories of employment-based green cards that an O1 holder can take advantage of to become a permanent resident. They include EB1, EB2, EB3 and EB4 visas.
For O1 holders, one of the most common paths to a green card is the EB1 immigrant visa. This is because the qualifications for this category are the same as those for the O1 visa application.
On the other hand, O2 holders are not allowed to apply for the green card. But they could change their status to another nonimmigrant visa that allows them to apply for a green card. The H1B visa is among the possibilities that are accessible.
Change of state
You can only change your O3 status when your O1 or O2 main visa does the same. For your application, you must submit Form I-539. As explained above, this is the Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status form and the filing fee is $379.
The O1 visa sponsor is likely to be the one processing the change of status on behalf of the primary visa holder and their dependents.
The specific requirements for changing status will depend on the nonimmigrant status you are changing to. It is important to submit your application in time before your visa expires. Finally, you may need to attend another interview and submit supporting documents.
Extension of stay
Again, you can extend your stay beyond the expiry date of the O3 visa if the main visa holder does the same. Holders of O1 and O2 visas may receive 1-year extensions from USCIS. The exact length of the extension will depend on how long the primary visa holder needs to stay in the United States and will apply to O3.
There is no limit to the number of times an O visa holder can request an extension of stay. As long as they provide valid evidence as to why they cannot leave the United States yet. Extending your stay requires the submission of Form I-539.
Can someone with an O3 visa study?
With an O3 visa you can study in the United States full-time or part-time. However, the duration of your studies must not exceed the period of stay of the main O visa holder. If your study program lasts longer than the period granted to the main O holder, you will need to apply for an extension of your O visa to finish it. However, since your O3 visa is dependent, you only get an extension if the primary visa holder also requests an extension.
How can I get my O3 visa renewed?
Renewing your O3 visa is simply an extension of your stay. If the O1 visa holder applies and is eligible for visa renewal, the O3 visa will also be automatically renewed.
Can O3 visa holders get SSN?
O3 visa holders cannot obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) in the United States.