If you are affiliated with someone who is applying for an O-1 visa to the U.S., either as that person’s support staffperson or family member, you too may be eligible for a short-term (nonimmigrant) visa to the United States. Here are the basic eligibility rules. To learn more about who qualifies for the underlying O-1 visa, see “An O-1 Visa to the U.S.: Do You Qualify?”
The important thing to understand about these dependent visas is that their validity relies on that of the underlying visa. They will last for the same length of time as the O-1 visa holder’s visa, and they may be extended if and only if the O-1 visa holder receives an extension. If the O-1 visa holder violates the terms of his or her visa, or otherwise causes it to be canceled, the O-2 and O-3 dependents will suffer the same consequences.
Of course, O-2 and O-3 visa holders must themselves take care to abide by the terms of their visa. Violating its terms (such as by working illegally, in the case of an O-3 dependent) or failing to leave on time can result in the visa being canceled or the person becoming ineligible for subsequent U.S. visas.
Who Qualifies for an O-2 Visa as a Staffperson
O-2 visas are available to people who work as essential support personnel of O-1 athletes and entertainers. O-2 visas are not available in the fields of science, business, or education. O-2 workers must be accompanying O-1 artists or athletes and be an integral part of the actual performance. The O-2 worker must also have critical skills, as well as experience with the particular O-1 worker, that are not general in nature and cannot be performed by a U.S. worker.
In the case of motion picture or television productions, there must be a preexisting, long-standing working relationship between the O-2 applicant and the O-1 worker. If significant portions of the production will take place both in and out of the U.S., O-2 support personnel must be deemed necessary for the achievement of continuity and a smooth, successful production.
Who Qualifies for an O-3 Visa as an Accompanying Relative
O-3 visas are available to accompanying spouses and unmarried children under age 21 of O-1 or O-2 visa holders. O-3 visas allow these relatives to enter and remain in the U.S. with the O-1 visa holder, but they may not accept employment in the United States.
You're Interested in an O-2 or O-3 Visa: What's Next?
For details about what to expect and do during the O visa application process, see U.S. Immigration Made Easy, by Ilona Bray (Nolo).
You might also wish to consult an immigration attorney for a full personal analysis of your eligibility, and for help with the application process. Using Nolo's Lawyer Directory, you can find an expert attorney who fits your needs and has taken the Nolo pledge promising respectful service. Look in particular for an attorney with expertise in business immigration law (even immigration law has many subspecialties within it).