Assistants and Dependents of O-1 Status Holders

Just like many other kinds of visas, certain dependents of O-1 status holders may travel to the United States with them on an O-3 visa. These nonimmigrants have the same duration of stay as the primary O-1 status holder. Moreover, O-1 holder may bring an assistant or assistants to support their work with a distinctive visa category, O-2.

O-3 Status

Any spouse or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany an O-1 or O-2 status holder to the United States may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa. They are subject to the same period and limitations as the primary O-1 or O-2 alien. These nonimmigrants are not allowed to accept employment unless they have been granted an Employment Authorization Document (for more information on EADs, please click here).

If the spouse or child is already in the United States on another nonimmigrant classification, they may file a separate change of status application in order to accompany their O-1 or O-2 alien.

O-2 Status

This non-immigrant status is available to those who will accompany and assist in the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 alien. To qualify for O-2 status, the alien must be an "integral part" of the actual performance and have "critical skills and experience" with the O-1 alien which are not of a general nature and which cannot be performed by U.S. workers.

In order to qualify for O-2 status, the petitioner must be able to establish that the beneficiary has met the standards necessary to claim their O-2 visa:

  1. In order to accompany an O-1 artist or athlete of extraordinary ability, the alien must provide evidence of current essentiality, skills and experience of the O-1 beneficiary and evidence of prior experience working with the principal O-1 alien.

  2. In order to accompany an O-1 alien of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, etc., the alien must provide evidence that significant production work has taken place outside the U.S. and will continue in the U.S. and that the alien’s continuing participation is critical to the success of the production.

Additionally, the O-2 beneficiary must maintain a foreign residence that he or she has no intention of abandoning.

Just as with an O-1 petition, consultation with an appropriate peer group that can attest to the O-2 alien’s qualifications and necessity is mandatory before the petition can be approved by the USCIS. The only exception to the consultation requirement would be if the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group does not exist. In this situation the petition decision will be based on the evidence on record.

The petitioning employer must file a petition (Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with the USCIS for the O-2 visa in conjunction with the O-1 alien at least 45 days before the start date of employment. Please note that the petitioner may not file the Form I-129 more than one year before the O-1 nonimmigrant will begin employment.

(Updated 10/10/2012 by AG)

For more information on the O-1 visa, please click one of the following links: