Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background
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. 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.
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.
The Immigration Act of 1990 added the O nonimmigrant classification, providing for the admission of persons of extraordinary ability. However, because of the passage of the Armed Forces Immigration Adjustment Act, implementation of certain O classification provisions were delayed until April 1, 1992. 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.
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")