O2 Visa: Everything You Need to Know

Updated on April 10, 2024

Figuring out what visa program suits your individual case can be quite stressful. You have to consider every detail in your current situation, and do that in a responsible manner. Otherwise, you might deal with unwanted consequences. If you’ve been thinking that the O2 visa is the right alternative for you, this article will most likely bring some clarity on the topic, allowing you to make the right decision.

At a Glance

  • The O2 visa, designed for individuals accompanying O1 visa holders in entertainment and athletics, boasts fast approval, unrestricted travel, and the option for O3 visas for accompanying relatives.
  • Despite benefits, limitations include the necessity to demonstrate a permanent foreign residence and working exclusively with the O1 principal.
  • Eligibility hinges on essential participation in the designated field and the demonstration of temporary intentions.
  • The application process involves the employer filing Form I-129, providing documentation of the intent to return home, and detailing the professional relationship. Processing typically takes 2-3 months, with a $460 visa fee, and extensions are possible, allowing dependents to enter on O3 visas.

What Is an O2 Visa?

The O2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category designated for foreigners that want to enter the US temporarily. It is created specifically for people accompanying aliens with excellent performance in fields such as entertainment, athletics, television production, motion picture, and so on. That is to say, the O2 visa is dependent on the status of the O1 visa holder, so to speak.

However, note that the O1 visa isn’t applicable to people working in the field of education, business or sciences.

O2 Visa Privileges

When you apply for an O2 visa, one of the main privileges is that you will most likely get your application approved rather fast. There are other types of visas that can be more cumbersome to get. This would be one advantage.

Another potential benefit linked with an O2 visa would be the fact that you can travel as you wish in and out of the US during the entire duration of the visa. This gives you peace of mind and freedom.

In addition to that, as a holder of the O2 visa, you are entitled to apply for O3 visas on behalf of any accompanying relatives.

O2 Visa Limitations

As it is the case with most visas, including the O1 visa, there are also limitations worth mentioning when it comes to the O2 visa. For one thing, you are required to demonstrate that you have a steady, permanent foreign residence. You should also prove that you don’t intend to abandon it and remain in the US instead. Aside from this, you should demonstrate that your plans in the US are temporary – and this includes any plans related to work.

In addition to that, as stated by the law, you must work with the O1 principal. As a holder of the O2 visa, your role in the US would be to provide support. So, this is a condition you have to meet.

Who Is Eligible for an O2 Visa?

As pointed out beforehand, the O2 visa is addressed to assisting people or the personnel people of the O1 visa holders. Check out the section regarding the O2 visa requirements for more details on this matter.

O2 Visa Requirements

Concurrently, you should play an essential part in the work or performance of the O1 visa holders. This would mean that you should showcase the skills and experience necessary for the work of the O1 visa holder.

Another requirement linked with this specific visa category would be that you are expected to work with people that have an O1 visa. That is to say, even if you have the skills and expertise to work in a different domain, the law doesn’t allow you to do so. You should also demonstrate that your work in the US is temporary, as you already have a permanent residence in a different country.

How to Apply for an O2 Visa

Regarding the application process for the O2 visa, note that your US employer is required by law to file an official document – Form I-129 – also referred to as Application for Nonimmigrant Worker. The employer has to do this on your behalf in order for your petition to be approved.

There are also some documents you are expected to provide when applying for the visa. There is the visa application form DS-156. Your passport should also be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the US.

We’ve already indicated that you must demonstrate your intention to return to your home country. This should be supported by documentation. An agreement indicating the terms and conditions of the service between the O1 visa holder and the O2 visa applicant is required. The professional nature of your relationship should be demonstrated as well.

O2 Visa Processing Time

Moving on to the processing time for the O2 visa, it varies depending on the country from where you’re applying. The workload of your home country’s embassy will matter in this respect as well. But the standard processing time would be between two to three months. There is also the alternative of having your application processed faster. But this comes at the cost of an additional fee. If the situation is urgent, you might consider paying the fee.

How Much Does an O2 Visa Cost?

As part of the application process, you need to pay a visa fee, which is $460. You have to pay this in order to continue with your application. Make sure you keep the receipts indicating that you have made the payments, as they are necessary.

O2 Visa Extension

It is possible to extend your O2 visa, as long as your employer agrees to file the petition on your behalf. In addition to that, note that the extension is granted in yearly increments since the O2 visa is considered to be employer specific.

O2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

If you need any extra information about the O2 visa, check out these frequently asked questions:

How long can I stay in the U.S. on O-2 work visa?

Usually, the time frame you can stay in the US is decided based on the time necessary for assisting the holder of the O1 visa. Usually though, the duration of the visa isn’t higher than three years. On the other hand, the holder of the O1 visa may consider applying for an extension.

Can I appeal a denial of extension of stay on O-2 status?

No, this isn’t a possibility for the holders of the O2 visa.

Can I study on O-2 work visa?

Yes, you may still preserve your O status and pursue part-time studying.

Are there any travel restrictions on O-2 visa?

There are no laws that limit the number of times you may travel in and out of the US as a holder of the O2 visa. That is to say, you have complete freedom in this respect.

On what grounds can my O-2 petition be revoked?

There are several situations that could lead to the revocation of your O2 petition. One scenario would be if the original capacity that made you eligible for the visa has changed. On a different note, if you’ve made any untruthful claims in your petition, you might also be prone to revocation.

If the terms and conditions of your O2 visa haven’t been respected, then revocation is also likely to happen. Aside from this, another ground on which your petition might be revoked is if the initial approval of the petition was due to an error.

Can I appeal a denial or revocation of O-2 petition?

According to the 8 CFR part 103, you have the right to appeal against a revoked or denied petition.

How can I change from another nonimmigrant status to O-2 in the U.S.?

You can change your status in the US, granted that you meet the requirements and qualify as an O2 foreign national. If you overstay your visa in the US, this might not be available to you, nor would it be available if you entered the country without inspection.

On what visa category can my dependents enter into the U.S. while I am on O-2 visa?

We already mentioned beforehand that as a holder of the O2 visa, you are entitled to bring dependents with you, due to the existence of the O3 visa. This type of visa is available to dependents under 21 years old, who can accompany you to the US.

Can dependents of O-2 work?

According to the law, the holders of the O3 status cannot work.

Can I work for more than one employer on O-2 visa?

Yes, the law doesn’t have any restrictions in this respect. Nonetheless, in order to qualify for this, every employer is required to file an individual petition with the USCIS.

Can I change employers on O-2 work visa?

As a holder of the O2 work visa, you have the right to change employers. Nevertheless, in this case, the new employer must file another petition. Concurrently, one has to apply for an O2 extension of stay with the USCIS.

What is the employer’s liability if the employment of the O-2 visa holder is terminated?

If the employment is terminated, due to reasons excluding resignation, then the US employer is responsible for covering the costs of the return to the home country.

Final Thoughts

So, applying for a visa is not easy. But when you know what to do and what is expected of you, the process is significantly simplified. Since there are several types of O visas, you might be confused, but we hope that this article clarified the topic a bit. Make sure you also check the other resources we have on our website – regarding O1 dependent visa or the process of applying for an O1 visa loan.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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