What is the O-2 Visa?

The O-2 visa falls is a non-immigrant visa created for individuals who will act as support personnel and accompany an O-1A visa holder (athletics category only) or O-1B artist visa holder to assist in a specific event or performance. It is important to note that the O-2 visa is not available for support personnel of O-1 visa holders who work in science, education, or business: it is only for O-1 visa holders in the athletic, entertainment, television or motion picture industry. In this post, we will take a look at who is eligible for an O-2 visa.

O-2 Visa Eligibility Requirements

O-2 visa applicants must meet the following requirements and provide evidence of such in their applications:

  • Be a critical member or part of the performance or work of the O1 visa holder.
  • Possess the skills and experience that the O-1 visa holder’s performance or work requires, which cannot be found in other workers
  • Must only work with people who have a valid O-1 visa and not in other jobs, even if the other jobs are related to the relevant skills and experience
  • Prove that the applicant intends to only work in the US and that he or she has a residence in another country. 

If you are looking for more information about the O visas, you can read our blog about who is eligible for the O-1A visa.

The O-2 Visa Timeline

The application process and timeline for the O-2 visa involves several steps that require careful preparation and attention to detail:

  • Collect documentary evidence. Applicants must gather substantial evidence to show their value as a support personnel to an O-1 visa holder. Such documentation includes, but may not be limited to, the following:
  • 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 that describes the essential support person applicant’s prior and current essential duties of the position, critical skills and substantial experience performing these duties for the O-1 visa applicant.
  • A copy of the contract between the employer and the essential support personnel applicant.
  • Your employer files Form I-129 (Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker) on your behalf. A U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or foreign employer through a U.S. agent should file this form on your behalf, along with the required evidence according to the form’s instructions. Your employer can’t file the petition more than one year before they actually need your services, so you will not want to attempt to do this too early. To avoid delays, the employer should file your Form I-129 at least 45 days before the date of employment.
  • WAIT. Once everything has been properly filed, USCIS will process your application and you will receive notice if your application was accepted or not. From this news, you will be able to determine your next steps. 
  • If your application is approved, both the sponsor and the applicant will receive Form I-797 (Notice of Action)-this allows applicants to begin their visa applications. 
  • To complete the visa application, applicants will need to complete Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). This form is completed and submitted online.

Important: Please note that USCIS processing times can change frequently. To stay up-to-date on processing times, please refer to the USCIS website. 

O-2 Visa Filing Fees and Costs

USCIS and DOS filing fees for the O-2 visa are separated into applicants filing from inside the United States and those filing from outside the United States

Applicants filing from inside the United States

  • Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker; usually paid for by the U.S. sponsor): $460
  • Premium processing (optional): $2,500

Applicants filing from outside the United States

Important: Fees are subject to change by the U.S. government prior to case filing. Learn more here to see up-to-date USCIS fees.

FAQs For Who Is Eligible For An O-2 Visa

What is a non-immigrant visa vs. an immigrant visa?

  • Nonimmigrant visas are for foreign nationals wishing to enter the United States on a temporary basis for things such as tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, or study, whereas an immigrant visa is issued to foreign nationals who intend to live permanently in the United States.
  • An O-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa.

What is the difference between an O-2 visa and an O-3 visa?

An O-2 visa is for individuals who are assisting an O-1 visa holder directly, whereas the O-3 visa is for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of O-1 and O-2 visa holders who want to come with or visit the O-1 or O-2 visa holder in the United States.

How long does an O-2 visa last?

The O-2 visa is directly tied to the O1 visa. As a result, the initial approval will be for 3 years of work in the United States. However, if the O-1 visa holder has more work to do and needs you to stay as part of your duties, you can apply for an extension of time. Extensions of the O-2 visa are typically granted in yearly increments.

What documents are needed for an O-2 visa interview?

After an O-2 visa petition has been successfully approved, the applicant will be required to attend a visa interview at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The supporting documents that are be provided to the consular officer may include the following:

  • A valid, up-to-date passport
  • A photograph taken according to 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 O-1 visa holder
  • Proof of the applicant’s critical skills and experience related to the O-1 visa holder’s work
  • Evidence that the applicant has strong ties to their home country and a residence there

Are there any travel restrictions on the O-2 visa?

There are currently no travel laws that limit the number of times that an O-2 visa holder may travel in and out of the United States during his or her visa period.

What happens if my O-2 visa application is denied?

When an O-2 visa application is denied, the USCIS must notify the applicant in writing of the reasons why the application was denied. This notice from the USCIS will also describe applicant’s appeal rights and their opportunity to file a motion to reopen or reconsider.

Wrapping Up Who Is Eligible For An O-2 Visa

The O-2 visa opens the door to allow individuals to accompany their fellow O-1 visa holder to the United States to assist the O-1 visa holder with his or her projects and performances. While the application process may be demanding, the potential benefits and opportunities are worth the effort if you are qualified for the O-2 visa.