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O-2 - Accompanying Aliens

O-2 VISA: ACCOMPANYING ALIENS OF O1 VISA HOLDERS

O-2 Category: Accompanying Aliens
This category is confined to aliens seeking to accompany O-1 aliens in the arts, motion picture, and television productions, and athletics. O-2 aliens cannot work separate and apart from the O-1 alien in question and "must be petitioned for in conjunction with the services of the O-1 alien."

O-2 visas are offered to support personnel of O-1 Visa holders in the fields of athletics, entertainment, motion picture and television production. This status is not applicable to personnel in the sciences, business or education.

Special Rule for O-2 Aliens in Motion Picture and TV Productions
The O-2 alien must have: (a) skills and experience with the O-1 alien not of a general nature; (b) that are critical either based on a pre-existing, long-standing working relationship; or (c) with respect to the specific production, because significant production (including pre- and post- production work) will occur inside and outside the United States, and the continuing participation of the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under an O-3 status. The petitioner should file a petition on their behalf. Your dependents must prove immediate relation to you. Though they are not allowed to work while in the U.S., dependants may attend school or college.

Consultation
In general, a consultation from a labor union is required before an O petition may be adjudicated. If a union has a collective bargaining agreement in the field, that is the appropriate union with which to consult. Otherwise, a union with expertise in the field is appropriate.

Union consultations may consist either of the union's opinion regarding the nature of the proposed work and the alien's qualifications or a simple letter of no objection.

Petitions for O-1 aliens of extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television productions require both a union and a management consultation.

For O-2 petitions with multiple beneficiaries, it is entirely possible that consultations from more than one union will be required, depending on the job categories involved.

Dual Intent
By statute, there is no foreign residence requirement for O-1 aliens, who, along with their dependents, may thus seek permanent residence without jeopardizing their ability to maintain, extend, or re-acquire their status. O-2 aliens, on the other hand, must be coming to the United States temporarily and maintain a residence abroad they do not intend to abandon.

Period of Admission
The statute imposes no limit on the length of admission for an O-1 alien, except that it authorizes admission for the period of the "event" in question. Nevertheless, USCIS has settled on an initial validity period of three years to complete the event or activity in question for O-1 and O-2 aliens. Extensions to continue/complete the same events/activities may be obtained for one year at a time. Aliens may be admitted up to 10 days prior to the validity period and may remain 10 days thereafter (but only if admitted for that time), although they are not permitted to work during these 10-day periods.

Return Transportation
For aliens entering the United States in O status whose employment terminates for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer whose offer underlies the O status and the petitioner, if separate, are liable for the reasonable cost of return transportation abroad - meaning the beneficiary's last place of residence prior to entry.

STEPS

The O-2 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your petitioner should file a Form I-129 with the USCIS having jurisdiction over the state in which you intend to work. The form should be filed at least six months before you plan to begin working. More than one O-2 application may be included on the same petition, if all parties are helping the same O-1 applicant for the same events or performances, during the same period of time and at the same location.

DOCUMENTS

Applicants must provide the following documents at the U.S. Consulate when applying for the O-2 Visa:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Establishment of the demonstration of nonimmigrant intent. You must prove that you will return to your home country.
  • An official agreement between you and the petitioner detailing the terms and conditions of the services.
  • An agreement between you and the O-1 visa holder that proves your professional relationship. Proof of a previous professional relationship with the O-1 visa holder.
  • Proof that you are capable of assisting the O-1 visa holder.

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