Understanding the O-2 Visa
The O-2 visa is a designation given to alien individuals who travel with, aid, and assist an O-1 visa holder in an essential capacity. However, this designation is available only for accompanists who assist O-1 visa holders in the athletic, artistic, or movie and TV industries.
O-2 visas are not granted to those who assist O-1 visa holders in business, science, or education.
O-2 aliens must prove that their role with O-1 individuals are of an integral nature, and that they possess skills and expertise that others do not have. When applying for a O-2 visa to support an O-1 alien in the film and TV industry, the O-2 alien needs to demonstrate a long-term working relationship with the O-1 individual and/or an essential role to the U.S. based production. Further, a single 0-2 petition is not limited to a single accompanist, as it may actually serve multiple beneficiaries.
If there is a U.S. worker who can perform the same function that the O-2 alien normally does, it doesn’t necessarily mean the petition will not be approved.
However, what the USCIS is looking for during the petition process is an alien with recognizably unique skills and experience, and one with a well-established working relationship with the O -1 visa holder. For instance, roles like personal assistants and musical accompanists are well-regarded by the USCIS, whereas more general roles such as limo driver or valet will face a much greater burden of proof, if not denied altogether.
O-2 individuals may not pursue employment outside of their established support role to the O-1 visa holder. When their accompanist duties have concluded, O-2 visa holders are required to leave the U.S. or change to another status.
Spouses and minor dependents of the O-2 visa holder may petition for a O-3 visa for admittance into the U.S., and once approved, may enroll in school. If an O-3 individual wishes to work, however, she or he will have to reclassify under a different status to acquire a work visa.
When preparing the O-2 petition, it is important to include lots of supporting documentation evidencing the qualifications of the O-2 individual. This might consist of a letter from the petitioner and the O-1 individual outlining the experience and skill he or she possesses in support of the O-1, contracts, itinerary, resume, and, depending on the role, a labor union letter if required.
For more information, visit our O-1 Visa section as well as our Did You Know? section and Common O-1 Visa Questions.
For help with the O-2 Visa, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online.
Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2015 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.