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Chapter 2 - Eligibility for O Classification

A. General

The O nonimmigrant classification allows the following aliens to enter the United States or change status from another nonimmigrant category:

  • Aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1 nonimmigrants);

  • Aliens of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry (O-1 nonimmigrants); and 

  • Certain aliens accompanying and assisting an O-1 nonimmigrant (O-2 nonimmigrants).

B. Eligibility Requirements

In general, the beneficiary of a petition for O nonimmigrant classification must meet certain eligibility requirements, among others, as applicable:

O-1 Extraordinary Ability in Sciences, Education, Business, or Athletics (commonly referred to as O-1A)

  • The beneficiary has extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim; and

  • The beneficiary seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.[1]

O-1 Extraordinary Ability in Arts (commonly referred to as O-1B (Arts))

  • The beneficiary has extraordinary ability in the arts, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim; and

  • The beneficiary seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.[2]

O-1 Extraordinary Achievement in Motion Picture or Television Industry (commonly referred to as O-1B (MPTV))

  • The beneficiary has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television productions; and

  • The beneficiary seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary achievement.[3]

O-2 Accompanying Alien (Essential Support Personnel)

  • The O-2 beneficiary seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of accompanying and assisting in the artistic or athletic performance by an O-1 beneficiary who is admitted for a specific event or events;

  • Is an integral part of such actual performance(s) or event(s);

  • Has critical skills and experience with the O-1 beneficiary, which are not of a general nature and are not possessed by a U.S. worker; and

  • Has a foreign residence which the O-2 has no intention of abandoning.

In cases involving a motion picture or television production, the O-2 beneficiary must also have skills and experience with the O-1 beneficiary that are not of a general nature and are critical either:

  • Based on a pre-existing longstanding working relationship; or

  • With respect to a specific production because significant production (including pre- and post-production work) will take place both inside and outside the United States and the continuing participation of the O-2 beneficiary is essential to the successful completion of the production.[4]

Footnotes


[^ 1] See INA 101(a)(15)(O)(i). See 8 CFR 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(A)(1).

[^ 2] See INA 101(a)(15)(O)(i). See 8 CFR 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(A)(1).

[^ 3] See INA 101(a)(15)(O)(i). See 8 CFR 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(A)(2).

[^ 4] See INA 101(a)(15)(O)(ii). See 8 CFR 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(B).

Resources

Legal Authorities

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

8 CFR 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(A)(1) - Description of classifications, extraordinary ability

8 CFR 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(A)(2) - Description of classifications, extraordinary achievement

8 CFR 214.2(o)(1)(ii)(B) - O2 classification

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”].