Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and implementing regulations provide that certain employers or agents may petition in the O-1 visa category for nonimmigrants who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.[1] The O-1 visa category may also include those who have a demonstrated a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry.[2]

The INA and implementing regulations also provide that certain employers or agents may petition for accompanying noncitizens (O-2 classification) who seek to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of accompanying and assisting in the artistic or athletic performance by the O-1 artist or athlete.[3]

B. Background

The Immigration Act of 1990 added the O nonimmigrant classification, providing for the admission of persons of extraordinary ability.[4] However, because of the passage of the Armed Forces Immigration Adjustment Act, implementation of certain O classification provisions were delayed until April 1, 1992.[5] Before Congress enacted these laws, artists, athletes, and other performers were admitted under the H-1 (distinguished merit and ability), H-2, or B-1 visa categories.

C. Legal Authorities

  • INA 101(a)(15)(O) - Definition of O nonimmigrant classification

  • INA 101(a)(46) - Definition of extraordinary ability in the arts

  • INA 214 - Admission of nonimmigrants

  • 8 CFR 214.2(o) - Special requirements for admission, extension, and maintenance of status ("Aliens of extraordinary ability or achievement")


[^ 1] See INA 101(a)(15)(O)(i).

[^ 2] See INA 101(a)(15)(O)(i).

[^ 3] See INA 101(a)(15)(O)(ii).

[^ 4] See Pub. L. 101-649 (PDF), 104 Stat. 4978 (November 29, 1990).

[^ 5] See Pub. L. 102-110 (PDF), 105 Stat. 555 (October 1, 1991).

Current as of October 01, 2021