Qualifications and Limitations
To qualify for an O-2 visa, your duties must be an integral part of the activities of the O-1 visa holder, and you must have a longstanding pre-existing professional relationship with the holder. Your duties must be of a specific rather than a general nature, they must require you to possess and utilize critical skills and experience, and they must not be possessed by a US worker.
O-2 visas are offered only to support personnel for O-1 visas holders in the fields of athletics, entertainment, motion picture, and television production. They are not granted to support personnel of holders of O-1 visas that were granted on the basis of participation in scientific, business or educational fields — a scientific research assistant would probably be ineligible, for example.
You cannot work for anyone else while you are in the US unless the other employer separately petitions the USCIS, and your family members may not work while they are present in the US.
The permitted period of stay of an O-2 visa holder is often coextensive with the duration of the O-1 visa holder’s status, including an indefinite number of one-year extensions. If your services are not necessary for the O-1 visa holder’s entire duration of stay, however, your period of stay will be limited to the time period during which your services are actually needed.
As is the case with the O-1 visa holder, you can be admitted to the US up to 10 days before your visa validity period begins, and you may delay your departure for up to 10 days after your visa validity period ends. The O-2 visa is a multiple re-entry visa, meaning that you can travel to and from the US as many times as you like during the visa validity period.
The application process involves four steps:
- Obtain an advisory letter from an appropriate professional or labor organization. The letter must explain why your services are essential, and it must describe your ongoing working relationship with the O-1 visa holder. The letter may be required to address other issues as well, depending on the nature of the O-1 visa holder’s activities in the US.
- File Form I-129 and certain supporting documentation (including your advisory opinion, your employment contract, your itinerary, etc.) with the USCIS, It would be best if your application is filed in the same package as the O-1 petitioner’s application.
- Receive an approval notice from the USCIS.
- Schedule and attend an interview at the appropriate US embassy or consulate (probably in your place of residence). You will have to fill out Form DS-156 and bring certain materials and documentation with you. The process is similar to the consular processing for the O-1 visa holder. If your interview is successful, your visa will be stamped onto your passport, and you may use it to enter the US up to 10 days before its period of validity begins.
If you are terminated or laid off while in the US, your employer must pay for your return transportation to your last place of residence abroad. This liability does not apply if you quit your job voluntarily.