Application Process O-2 Visa

The petitioner must file a petition with USCIS for the O-2 visa.  The petitioner should file Form I-129,  An O-2 alien must be petitioned for in conjunction with the services of the O-1 artistic or athletic alien.  The petitioner may not file the Form I-129 more than one year before the O non immigrant will begin employment. To avoid delays, Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment. The petitioner must submit Form I-129, Petition for Non immigrant Worker,  and the following documentary evidence:


If the O-2 petition is for support of an individual with extraordinary ability in athletics or the arts, the consultation must be from the appropriate labor organization; or If the O-2 petition is for support of an individual with extraordinary achievement in motion pictures or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor organization and a management organization with expertise in the skill area involved. Exceptions to the Consultation Requirement:
If the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, does not exist the decision will be based on the evidence of record.

Evidentiary Criteria for O-2

The evidence should establish the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 beneficiary with the O-1 beneficiary and that the beneficiary has substantial experience performing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1. In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence should establish that significant production has taken place outside the United States and will take place inside the United States, and that the continuing participation of the O-2 beneficiary is essential to the successful completion of the production.

Post Petition Approval

Once the visa petition is approved for O-1/O-2 by USCIS, the beneficiary can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa.  Department of State (DOS) establishes visa application processing and issuance fees.  

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay

Initial Period of Stay  Extension of Stay
  Up to 3 years  USCIS will determine time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to 1 year. 
As an O non immigrant, the beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends.  The beneficiary may only engage in authorized employment during the validity period of the petition.

Extension of Stay

The petitioner must request an extension of stay to continue or complete the same event or activity by filing the following documentation with USCIS:
  • Form I-129, Petition for Non immigrant Worker
  • A copy of the beneficiary’s Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record
  • A statement from the petitioner explaining the reasons for the extension
In order to assist USCIS in adjudication of your request for extension, the statement should describe the event or activity that was the basis for the original approval and confirm that the extension is needed in order for the beneficiary to continue or complete the same event or activity as described.
The beneficiary’s spouse and children must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non immigrant Status, and submit any supporting documents to extend their stay.

Family of O-1 and O-2 Visa Holders

Any accompanying or following to join spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 non immigrant visa, subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 non immigrant.  They may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in full or part time study on an O-3 visa.

Changing Employers

If you are an O-1 non immigrant in the United States and you want to change employers, then your new employer must file a Form I-129 with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. If the petition was filed by an agent, an amended petition must be filed with evidence relating to the new employer and a request for an extension of stay.

Material Change in Terms and Conditions of Employment

If there has been any material change in the terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the petitioner must file an amended petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.
Note: There are special rule for athletes. When professional athletes with O-1 non immigrant status are traded from one team to another, employment authorization will continue with the new team for 30 days during which time the new employer must file a new Form I-129. The simple act of filing the Form I-129, within this 30-day period, extends the employment authorization at least until the petition is adjudicated.  If the new employer does not file a new Form I-129 within 30 days of the trade, the athlete loses his or her employment authorization. The athlete also loses his or her employment authorization if the new Form I-129 is denied.

Return Transportation

If the employment of an O non immigrant beneficiary is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer must pay for the reasonable cost of return transportation to the O non immigrant’s last place of residence before entering into the United States. If an agent filed the petition for the employer, the agent and the employer are equally responsible for paying these costs.