According to its designation, the O-2 visa is for nonimmigrants who’d want to be in the US temporarily. However, its specific purpose is to let the people who’re accompanying aliens with O1 Visa into the country. Unsurprisingly, thus, its status is dependent on that of the O1 visa holder.
Moreover, with the O-2, a nonimmigrant’s application can get approval much more quickly. With it, you may leave the country as often as you desire to. Finally, an O-2 visa holder can also get O3 visas for the relatives accompanying them.
O2 Visa Requirements
That said, you will be ineligible for an O-2 if you aren’t essential to the work or performance of the principal applicant, i.e., O-1 visa holder. Therefore, you’ll need to demonstrate you have the experience/skills that necessitate your presence.
Aside from that, you must be capable of working with the principal applicant. Even if you possess skills or expertise additional to the domain of the O-1 visa holder, you cannot use them. And, remember, this niche is temporary, which you must prove by showing you have a permanent residence elsewhere in the world.
O-2 Visa Benefits
Besides the freedom to leave the country whenever you need to, there are other benefits that O-2 visa holders enjoy. One of them is being allowed to work in the US as long as they do it for the O visa sponsor. They also get to extend their visa for an unlimited number of times but in one-year increments. Your better half and any unmarried kids younger than 21 may also enter the US with you.
How Long is an O-2 Visa Valid For?
While it is true that the Visa O2 is initially worth 3 years of work, it is equally necessary to know the other factors affecting its validity. For one, if the visa of the O-1 applicant expires, the O-2 accompanying them must leave the US too. The reverse applies too, i.e., you get to extend yours if they’ll be staying for longer.
Another thing to note is that you’re allowed to switch employers and assist another O-1 visa holder. But to do so, your new boss must file for a new petition. That remains true when you’re working for multiple employers, i.e., a petition per job.
Who can be a Sponsor?
Since your visa links you to that of your O-1 visa counterpart, their employer will be the one sponsoring you too.
How much does it Cost?
The O2 Visa Fee is inexpensive, just like the O1 visa. When you’re filing I-129, your employer – and not you — will pay the fee for it, i.e., $460. Wanting to speed up the process earns you an optional tag of $1,225 – this amount can be from you or the employer. The amount for filing the DS-160 fee is $190, and if you have to get biometrics done, you must pay $85 for it.
What About Family Members?
Your dependents can stay for as long as you do on an O-3 visa. Either file the applications for them with yours or later. However, remember, they cannot hold a job while in the US. Their application will follow the same procedure as yours – which we cover below. They’ll just need to submit copies of your documents, such as the I-797, passport, visa, as well as, proof of their relationship with you, i.e., the O-2 visa holder.
O-2 Visa Application Process
For simplification, we present the application process as divided into several steps:
Step #1 Employment Petition
An employer in the US will get the ball rolling by filing the petition for both you and the O-1 visa holder you’re accompanying. That means completing Form I-129 and handing it to USCIS no later than 45 days and not earlier than 6 months before you start the job.
The employer will also pack in with it the proof that shows how you are critical to the O-1 visa holder’s job. Usually, this comes in the form of a letter from the relevant agencies. It will also explain why the employer must get employees from outside the US. Other than that, it will make your relationship with the O-1 evident.
Your employer must include the contract between the two visa holders and the kind of work you’ll be involved in together. USCIS will get to reviewing to the submitted documents and let on if they’re approving the petition. That’s when you can go ahead with the I-797. After that, the consular process will begin at your end.
Step #2 Form DS-160
The U.S. O2 Visa process arrives at the submission of form DS-160 next. Submit it, so that you can receive the confirmation code. You’ll need it when sending your documents to the Embassy.
Step #3 Visa Fee
Check if your country mandates any additional fee that you must pay. If they don’t, then just pay the visa fee and bring the receipt to the Embassy.
Step #4 Visa Interview
Clear your interview, which will be at the U.S Embassy. Bring the confirmation letter they send you when scheduling it, the receipts, the confirmation code, and Form I-797, along with the following:
- Photograph and passport
- Proofs of your contract with the O-1, your skills, and the deed of your residential property
- Proof of relationship for any O-3 visa applicants coming with you
O2 Visa Processing Time
Both the Embassy workload and your country of origin will affect the O-2 visa processing time. Normally, you’ll be looking at 2 to 3 months. Speed it up with premium processing to 2 weeks.
O2 Visa to Green Card
This is a complicated affair since you declare strong ties to your country when you apply for the O-2. But if you must get a Green Card, do it by changing the O-2 to an H-1B or any other dual intent visa.
Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!
Sure, the thought of applying for the O-2 appeals to most nonimmigrants. However, that isn’t to say that you get it after enduring a stressful process. We’d recommend you contact LA’s best immigration lawyer to really understand What is O2 Visa, seek legal advice, and how best to file the paperwork.