What is an O3 Visa?
The O3 is one of the visas available under the O nonimmigrant classification. It is a derivative visa for your spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of O1 and O2 Visa holders. Successful applicants are eligible to live in the United States on the O3 status. But they are not allowed to work and earn income.
O3 Visa holders can travel in and out of the US for short trips. There’s no limit to the number of times they can travel. An O3 visa holder can always enter and remain in the United States as long as the primary O1 or O2 visa holder maintains valid status. When the O1 or O2 visa holder loses their status, the O3 holders lose their status as well.
Nevertheless, O3 visa holders can request a change of status to a different permit to stay in the United States for longer. They can even apply for a Green Card and become lawful permanent residents.
O3 Visa Eligibility
To be eligible for an O3 visa application, there’s just one major requirement you need to meet; You must be an immediate relative of an O1 or O2 Visa holder. Immediate relative refers to a lawful married spouse and children under the age of 21 who are not married.
You will have to show proof of a qualifying family relationship with the O1 or O2 visa holder. O1 visa category is for foreign nationals with outstanding achievements and national or international recognition. They fall into two categories:
- O1A: These are for foreign scientists, educators, business people, and athletes.
- O1B: These are for international artists in art, cinema, or TV.
The O2 visa is for assisting staff of O1 visas.
O3 Visa Application Process
The first step in the application process will depend on your present location. The visa application process for applicants who are already in the US is different from those applying from outside the US.
For Applicants in the US
If you are already in the United States on a different nonimmigrant visa, you should apply for an O3 visa along with the O1 visa application. The employer or sponsor of the principal O visa beneficiary will sponsor your O3 visa.
For your application, you have to file Form I-539, Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status. The visa sponsor is also likely to pay your filing fee.
For Applicants Outside the US
If you’re in your home country, you can file with the O1 visa applicant at the same time or file after the O1 is approved. You have to submit Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
Next, you have to pay your fees. After submitting your application, the embassy will only start processing if they confirm your payment. The filing fee may not be the only fee you pay.
Additional expenses, such as issuance fees, may apply depending on your country of residence. It’s important to keep the receipt of all paid fees. After completing the application form and paying the required fees, the embassy will invite you for a visa interview.
This interview is usually compulsory for all applicants between the ages of 14 and 79. Embassies often have a busy workload throughout the year, so, ideally, you schedule the interview as soon as possible. After scheduling, the embassy will send confirmation of the day and time of your interview.
You have to bring original copies of all necessary documents to your interview. If you and your relative applied for the O1 visa together, your interviews would almost certainly be arranged on the same day.
O3 Visa Required Documents
At your interview, you have to provide original copies of the following documents:
- A valid international passport
- Passport photographs according to US Visa requirements
- Form I-539 confirmation page for applicants in the US
- Form DS-160 confirmation page for applicants in foreign countries
- Fees payment receipt
- Interview schedule confirmation
- Form I-797 of the O1 or O2 visa holder
- Copy of international passport of the O1 or O2 visa holder
- Copy of the visa of O1 or O2 visa holder
- Proof of your relationship with the O1 or O2 visa holder; valid marriage certificate for spouse and valid birth certificate for children.
- You’ll have to provide accredited translations for any of your documents that’s not in English.
O3 Visa Application Fees
- If you are filing from outside the US, the filing fee for Form DS-160 is $160. Keep in mind that other associated fees may apply, which vary from one embassy/consulate to another.
- If you’re in the US already and want to change your status to O3, the filing fee for Form I-539 is $379. The filing fee is the main charge you pay for your O3 visa application.
In some cases, you might pay a visa issuance fee or reciprocity fee; it depends on the country you’re applying from. Furthermore, you might have to pay for translations, if applicable in your own case.
O3 Visa Processing Time
The O visa classifications, including O3, typically take two to three months to process. You will receive a decision after the process. Sometimes, your application can also be delayed pending submission and review of further documents.
You can also check your visa application status as you wait on the CEAC website. It is not advisable for you to make travel preparations, such as purchasing plane tickets and booking tickets, until you are certain that your visa application has been approved.
O3 Visa Validity
The O3 visa is a dependent visa; hence the validity depends on the period of stay granted to the principal (O1 or O2) visa holder. This means your visa validity will have the same end date as the principal O visa beneficiary.
The limitations of the O3 visa include the inability to work. If you wish to work in the United States, you’ll have to change your status to a work visa. You can do this if you have a good job offer.
For example, you can change your O3 visa status to an H-1B visa. If your request for a change of status is successful, you will no longer be bound to the principal visa holder. You are free to work in the United States under the terms of the other visa.
The US law allows an O1 nonimmigrant whose employment ceases a limited-use 60-day grace period. O3 dependents are also included in the grace period. If the work doesn’t resume after 60 days, and there’s no cause for the O1 visa holder to remain in the US, both O1 and O3 dependent have to leave.
Green Card Application
Usually, O3 visas can’t directly lead to a green card. However, you may still obtain a green card through other available means.
You can get a Green Card if the principal visa holder has an O1 visa. This is because O1 visa holders are allowed to adjust their status to permanent resident status and become green card holder. If their green card application is successful, you will also become a permanent resident with a green card.
The EB1 immigrant visa is one of the most popular green card routes for O1 holders. This is because this category has similar requirements to the O1 visa application.
On the other hand, O2 holders are not allowed to file a green card application. But they may change their status to another nonimmigrant visa that allows green card application. One of the available options is the H1B visa.
Change of Status
You can only change your O3 status when the principal O1 or O2 visa is doing the same. For your application, you have to file Form I-539. As earlier explained, this is the form for Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status, and the filing fee is $379.
The O1 visa sponsor is likely to be the one to process the Change of Status on behalf of the principal visa holder and the dependents.
The specific requirements for change of status will depend on what nonimmigrant status you’re changing to. It’s important that you submit your application in time before your visa expires. Finally, you may have to attend another interview and submit supporting documents.
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With an O3 visa, you can study in the United States either full-time or part-time. However, the length of your studies should not exceed the period of stay of your principal O visa holder.
If your study program lasts more than the period granted to the principal O holder, you will need to request an extension of your O visa to finish it. However, because your O3 visa is dependent, you only get an extension if the principal visa holder also applies for an extension.
O3 visa renewal is simply an extension of stay. If the O1 visa holder applies and qualifies for visa renewal, the O3 visa is also automatically renewed.
O3 visa holders cannot get a social security number (SSN) in the United States.