USA and the UK
- What is the O visa category?
- What is an O2 visa?
- Who is eligible for an O2 visa?
- What is the application process for the O2 visa?
- What supporting documents are needed for an O2 visa application?
- What documents are needed for the O2 visa interview?
- What is the cost of an O2 visa?
- What is the processing time for an O2 visa?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the O visa category?
The O visa category is a nonimmigrant visa category that targets individuals with extraordinary ability, their essential support personnel, and their dependents to temporarily enter the United States for employment-related purposes. The O visa is divided into the following categories:
What is an O2 visa?
The O2 visa is designed for the essential support personnel of O1 visa holders who are temporarily entering the United States for work-related purposes. The O2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa and is only granted for those who are accompanying O1 (Individuals with Extraordinary Ability) visa holders who work in the field of athletics, entertainment, motion picture, or television production. O1 visa holders who work in education, business, or science are not eligible to bring essential support personnel with them to the United States under an O2 visa.
O2 visas may accompany the principal O1 visa holder for the purposes of assisting their work in the United States as essential support personnel. O2 visa applicants must be able to prove that they are an ‘integral part’ or an ‘essential component’ to the work of the individual with extraordinary ability whose role can not be easily replaced by a U.S. worker in order to be approved for a visa. While in the United States, O2 visa holders may enroll in part-time study in addition to their work duties.
Who is eligible for an O2 visa?
In order to qualify as essential support personnel to an O1 visa holder, the applicant must be able to prove the following:
- The applicant is a critical member of the performance or work of the O1 visa holder
- The applicant possesses the necessary critical skills and experience which the O1 visa holder’s performance or work requires and to which cannot be found in a U.S. worker
- The applicant will only work with the principal O1 visa holder who their visa is tied to and not in any other role (unless the applicant switches employers)
- The applicant is able to prove that s/he intends to only work in the U.S temporarily and will leave the United States once their visa expires as they maintain ties to their home country
It should be noted that O2 visas will only be granted to support staff who work in the athletic, entertainment, television, or motion picture industry. Support personnel of O1 visa holders who work in science, education, or business are not permitted to sponsor their staff for an O2 visa.
What is the application process for the O2 visa?
The first step in applying for an O1 or O2 visa is the U.S. sponsor filing a Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) on behalf of the applicant and submitting it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. sponsor can be either the U.S. prospective employer of the O1 and O2 visa applicants or a U.S. agent who is acting on behalf of a foreign employer. This form should be filed at least 45 days but no more than 6 months before the start of employment.
In addition to Form I-129, the U.S. sponsor will also need to submit supporting documentation which proves that both the O1 and O2 visa applicants possess the necessary skills and experience that qualify them for this particular visa.
The USCIS will then review the visa petition along with the supporting documents. If approved, both the sponsor and applicants will receive Form I-797 (Notice of Action) which will allow the applicants to begin their visa applications. The Department of State (DOS) establishes visa application processing which means that the applicants will have their visas processed at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
To complete the visa application process, the applicants will need to complete Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). This form is submitted online and will ask the applicants questions regarding their background, education, work experience, reasons for coming to the United States. After the form is completed, the applicant will be shown a confirmation page. It is very important that this page is printed out and safely kept as it will need to be submitted later in the visa application process.
The next step in the visa application process is paying the necessary visa fees then scheduling and attending a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. When attending the interview, it is important that the applicant bring the necessary documents relevant to their application. After the interview, the applicant will then receive a decision on whether or not their visa application has been approved and when they can travel to the United States and begin employment.
What supporting documents are needed for an O2 visa application?
In order to qualify for an O2 visa, the U.S. sponsor will need to submit supporting documentation that demonstrates how they are meet the requirements as essential support personnel to obtain an O2 visa. This will include the following documents:
- A consultation letter from an appropriate labor organization such as a U.S. labor union or management organization. If in support of an individual with extraordinary achievement in the television or motion picture industry, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor organization and a management organization that has expertise in that particular skill.
- An opinion letter from an appropriate peer group, management organization, or certified labor organization describing the essential support person’s prior and current essential duties, critical skills, and substantial experience performing these duties for the O1 visa applicant.
- A copy of the contract between the employer and the essential support personnel
It should be noted that O2 applicants who work in motion picture or television production will need to provide evidence that significant production (both pre-and post-production) took place outside of the United States and will take place inside the United States. Furthermore, the O2 applicant’s continuing participation in the production is essential to the successful completion of it.
What documents are needed for the O2 visa interview?
After the O2 visa petition has been approved, applicants will then need to attend a visa interview at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to obtain their visa. The supporting document which will need to be submitted to the consular officer may include the following:
- A valid passport
- A photograph (shot according to the US visa requirements)
- The DS-160 printed confirmation page
- The visa interview letter
- Receipts showing that the visa fee has been paid
- Form I-797 (Notice of Action)
- A copy of the contract with the O1 visa holder and any other previous contracts with the O1 visa holder
- Proof of the applicant’s critical skills and experience related to the work of the O1 visa holder
- Evidence that the applicant has strong ties to their home country (this can include property deeds, lease agreements, evidence of family or financial ties, etc)
- Marriage certificates and/or birth certificate (if apply for an O3 visa for a dependent family member such as a spouse or unmarried children under 21)
What is the cost of an O2 visa?
To apply for an O2, the US sponsor and the visa applicant will be responsible for the following fees:
- Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker): $460
- Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application): $190
- Premium processing (optional): $2,500
- Biometric fee (if applicable): $85
- Certified translations: costs may vary
It should be noted that the I-129 petition will be paid for by the U.S. sponsor. The visa applicant will be responsible for paying all other O2 visa fees.
What is the processing time for an O2 visa?
Applicants can expect their O2 visa application to be processed within 2-3 months. However, this will depend on whether or not there is a USCIS backlog to compete with as well as the workload of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to which the visa application will be processed.
Applicants who would like a speedier response can apply for premium processing by filing Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) and paying the $2,500 fee. This service will process a visa application within 15 days.
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Since the O2 visa is directly tied to the principal O1 visa, the O2 visa is only as valid as long as the primary O1 visa is valid. Therefore, the O2 visa is valid for the duration of the estimated employment in the United States which is up to 3 years. If an extension is needed, the O2 visa can be extended in 1-year increments indefinitely.
Immediate family members of an O2 visa holder such as a spouse or dependent children (unmarried children under the age of 21) can join the principal O2 visa holder by applying for an O3 visa.
This visa will give spouses and dependent children nonimmigrant status that will allow them to stay in the United States with their spouse or parent where they can participate in full-time study. O3 visa holders, however, are not permitted to seek lawful employment whilst in the United States.
Our attorneys are experts in all the ins and outs of U.S. immigration law. If you would like assistance in applying for an O2 visa or another U.S. visa then our immigration experts are here to help you with whatever you may need. Our services include:
- Liaising with your employer or sponsor
- The file and review your Form I-129
- Checking to make sure that you have the necessary documents that meet the O2 visa requirements
- Supporting you to change your visa to another immigrant status if you would like to adjust status or transfer to another visa
Call us today at +1 844 290 6312 to speak to an experienced immigration attorney about your case. We are here to help you online, in person, or over the phone.