Understanding the O-3 Visa

The O-3 is a non-immigrant visa designed for immediate family members of the O-1 and O-2 visa holders to join them in the US. The spouses and under 21 unmarried children of the O-1 and O-2 visa holders are only the eligible dependents who can obtain an O-3 visa.


The O-3 visa holders are not allowed to work in the US but can take up a study course while in the country. But if you wish to work in the US, you must switch from your O-3 visa to a Student or Work visa.

O-3 Visa Overview

The US government created the O-3 visa route for dependents of O-1 and O-2 visa holders. The O-1 visa is specifically designed for individuals with extraordinary abilities in business, education, science, and arts to enter the US and engage in paid activities. Their extraordinary abilities include skills and talents that are not easily found.


This visa is typically valid for up to 3 years, whereby the O-1 visa holder must leave their country and stay in the US throughout the validity period of their visa. The O-2 visa holders are merely the assisting people or personnel of the O-1 visa holders. Family members of both O-1 and O-2 visa holders may need to join them and enter the US; for this reason, the US government created the O-3 visa.


The only people eligible to join the O-1 and O-2 visa holders are their immediate family members who are the spouses/partners or under 21 years old children who are unmarried. The O-3 visa holders are permitted to remain in the US for as long as the O-1 and O-2 visa holders (their primary visa holders) are still in the US.


O-3 Visa and Business Ownership

An O-3 visa work permit holder cannot work in the US; hence, they cannot perform any business or employment during their stay.


As an O-3 visa Holder, you can enter the US and leave as often as possible without immigration restrictions. You can even enroll in a US part-time or full-time study course. However, you are not permitted to work in the US, which implies that you cannot obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).


If you are caught doing any work illegally, you might risk deportation and even cause trouble for your primary visa holder (the O-1 or O-2 visa holder). This may also hamper your chances of obtaining a US visa in the future.

Application Process for an O-3 Visa

As a family member who would like to join an O-1 and O-2 visa holder to the US, you can apply in two ways. You can apply together with them or after they have obtained their visa. You are required to apply at the US embassy closest to you.

Fill Out Form DS-160

Complete the online non-immigrant visa application form. Include your details and the purpose of entering the US.

Pay Your Visa Fees

For your application to be processed, you must pay the O-3 visa application fee, which is $190. Gather your receipts as proof of payment and include them in your file.

Fix Your Visa Interview

Schedule an interview with your closest US embassy. To avoid further delays, you can apply together with the primary visa holder, the O-1 or O-2 visa applicant, so that you can attend the interview at the same time.

Assemble Your Documents

Come with your documents to support your application on the interview day. You must prove that you are qualified to be issued the O-3 visa.

Attend the Visa Interview

Ensure you attend the visa interview with all the required documents to support your application. At the interview, the US immigration officials will ask you several questions regarding the documents you have provided and your purpose for entering the US.


You must prove how related you are to the O-1 or O-2 visa holder and your plan to return home.

Await a Decision

You must exercise patience after applying for your O-3 visa, as it typically takes about 6 weeks to be processed. In fewer cases, applicants must wait for a decision on their O-3 visa application for up to 3 months or longer.

Comparing O-1, O-2, and O-3 Visas

The O-1 visa is designed for applicants who have extraordinary abilities. The O-2 visa is created for individuals assisting the O-1 visa holder. Whereas the O-3 visa is created for the immediate family members (dependents) of both O-1 and O-2 visa holders.


The O-3 visa holder is tied to an O primary visa holder, who is either an O-1 or O-2 visa holder. This implies that once the stay of either an O-1 or O-2 visa holder expires in the US, the O-3 visa holder's stay also expires. Also, the O-3 visa holder cannot apply for permanent residency in the US without the primary visa holder applying for the same.

Navigating Legalities and Seeking Advice

Applying for an O-3 visa involves rigorous processes including the collation of several documents to support your application. It's best to seek expert legal guidance in applying to avoid omitting a crucial document in your application.


Besides that, a professional US immigration lawyer will help you assess your situation to make an informed decision on your choice of visa and how to make the most of your stay.

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