O-3 Visa, How to Apply

O-3 Visa, How to Apply

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What is an O-3 visa?

O-3 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa issued by the U.S. for the spouses and unmarried children under 21 of O-1 or O-2 visa holders.

The O-1 visa is issued to individuals with extraordinary ability or achievements in the fields of science, education, business, athletics, or the arts, while the O-2 visa is issued to accompanying support personnel.

The O-3 visa allows the spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to stay in the U.S. for the same period of admission as an O-1 or O-2 visa holder.

O-3 visa requirements

To obtain an O-3 visa you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Relationship to O-1 or O-2 Visa Holder:
      • The applicant must be the spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of an O-1 or O-2 visa holder.
  • O-1 or O-2 Visa Holder’s Status:
      • The O-3 visa is dependent on the principal O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s status. Therefore, the O-1 or O-2 visa holder must be maintaining their valid status.
  • Application Process:
      • The O-3 visa application is typically submitted by the dependent family members after the principal O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s petition is approved.
  • Documentation:
      • The applicant will need to provide various supporting documents, including:
        • Proof of the family relationship to the O-1 or O-2 visa holder (marriage certificate for spouses, birth certificates for children).
        • Copy of the principal O-1 or O-2 visa holder’s approval notice.
        • Evidence of the principal visa holder’s legal status and eligibility.
  • Dependent Age Limit:
    • Children must be unmarried and under the age of 21 to qualify as dependents.
  • Duration of Stay:
    • O-3 visa holders are allowed to stay in the U.S. as long as the principal O-1 or O-2 visa holder maintains their status. The duration is typically tied to the period of the principal visa holder’s authorized stay.

How long is the O-3 visa valid for?

The validity of an O-3 visa is tied to the validity period of the corresponding O-1 or O-2 visa held by the principal visa holder (spouse or parent). 

O-3 visa holders are allowed to stay in the U.S. for the same duration as the principal O-1 or O-2 visa holder, provided that the principal visa holder maintains their status.

The initial period of stay for O-1 and O-2 visas can vary depending on the terms of the employment or activity for which the principal visa holder was admitted. 

It is common for O visas to be granted for up to three years with further one-year extensions.

Can I work on an O-3 visa?

Individuals holding O-3 visas are generally not authorized to work in the U.S. 

If an O-3 visa holder wishes to obtain employment authorization, they would need to pursue a separate work visa. 

This could involve changing their immigration status to a visa category that allows employment or applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

O-3 visa filing fee

The O-3 visa filing fees include:

  • Form I-129 filing fee: $460 (this fee is paid once when sponsoring the principal O-1 or O-2 applicant)
  • Premium Processing Fee (optional): $2,805 (the fee to expedite Form I-129 processing)
  • Form DS-160 filing fee (if family member is outside the U.S. and needs to apply for a visa): $205
  • Form I-539 filing fee (if family member is in the US and applying for change of status): $370

Government fees are subject to change, check the latest O-3 visa filing fees:

  • Form I-129 filing fee 
  • Premium Processing fee (optional)
  • Form DS-160 filing fee (if family member is outside the U.S.)
  • Form I-539 filing fee (if family member is in the US and applying for change of status)

O-3 visa checklist of required documents

The following documents must be submitted with your O-3 visa application (provide photocopies only):

Required evidence

Examples of acceptable documents

Completed Form DS-160 or Form I-539 If the family member is outside the U.S.:

  • Fill out Form DS-160 on the U.S. Department of State website 
  • DS-160 confirmation page with the barcode must be printed for the interview
  • Learn more: How to Fill Out Form DS-160

If the family member is in the U.S.:

  • File Form I-539 with USCIS
  • Form I-539 must be filed before the family member’s current nonimmigrant status expires
Payment of DS-160 or Form I-539 fees If the family member is outside the U.S.:

  • $205 fee/per applicant for Form DS-160
  • Check the latest O-3 visa filing fee on the US Department of State website (choose “Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee” and “Petition based visa categories”)

If the family member is in the U.S.:

  • $370 fee for Form I-539
  • Check the latest Form I-539 filing fee
O-1 visa holder’s proof of status
  • Form I-129 approval notice 
  • O-1 or O-2 visa
  • Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record of the O-1 or O-2 visa holder
Family member’s previous immigration documents (if applicable)
  • Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
  • Complete copy of passport (including any previously issued U.S. visas and CBP stamps)
  • USCIS I-797 approval notice(s) for previous nonimmigrant petitions, change/extension of status
  • Previously issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD), front and back – if applicable
Proof of relationship
  • Marriage certificate (for spouses)
  • Birth certificate of children
Passport
  • Passport valid for at least six months for each family member
Passport-style photographs
English translation
  • All documents in a foreign language must be accompanied by certified English translation

How to apply for an O-3 visa

The process of applying for an O-3 visa involves the following steps:

Step 1. Approval of Form I-129:

  • The principal O-1 visa applicant’s Form I-129 must be approved first

Step 2. Gather Supporting Documents:

  • Collect all the necessary supporting documents (see the checklist above)

Step 3. Submit Form DS-160 (if outside the US) or Form I-539 (if in the U.S.)

  • Family members located outside the U.S. will need to complete Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) and attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
  • Family members located in the U.S. will need to file Form I-539 with USCIS (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) before their current nonimmigrant status expires

Step 4. Interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate (if abroad) or Processing of Form I-539

  • If family members are located abroad, they will need to attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate 
  • If family members are located in the U.S., they will need to wait for USCIS processing of Form I-539

Step 5. Visa Issuance (if abroad) or Form I-539 approval

  • U.S. Embassy or Consulate typically issues O-3 visas within 1 week after the interview date
  • If USCIS approves Form I-539, the family members will receive an approval notice indicating their new O-3 status and the authorized period of stay

O-3 visa processing time

It can take anywhere from 1.5 months to 6 months to obtain an O-3 visa:

  • Form I-129 processing time – 1.5 months
  • If the family member is abroad and applying for a visa – 10 days to 4.5 months

To check the most current processing times for an O-3 visa:

  • Visit the USCIS website at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times
  • Select “Form I-129” 
  • Select “O – Extraordinary Ability”
  • Select your service center (the service center processing your application is printed in the lower left corner of Form I-129 receipt notice)
  • If applicant is abroad, check the visa appointment wait time (enter the location of the US Embassy/Consulate in your home country)

Keep in mind that processing times are general estimates, and individual cases may take less or more time to complete.

Related Links:

O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

O-1A Visa, How to Apply

O-1B Visa, How to Apply