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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 nonimmigrant aliens 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 aliens (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)

Footnotes


[^ 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).

Resources

Legal Authorities

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

INA 101(a)(15)(O) - Extraordinary ability in arts or athletics

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

INA 214(c) - Admission of nonimmigrants

Appendices

No appendices available at this time.

Updates

POLICY ALERT - O Nonimmigrant Visa Classification

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update and consolidate guidance related to O nonimmigrant classifications.

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POLICY ALERT - Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020. This guidance becomes effective October 2, 2020. For information regarding implementation, see our litigation summary.

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Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].