USCIS updates policy for immigrants with ‘extraordinary ability’

Expands guidance for achievers in sciences, arts, business, education, athletics, films and TV.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its policy relating to the O nonimmigrant classifications for aliens with “extraordinary ability” or a record of “extraordinary achievement.”

O-1 nonimmigrant status is available to those coming to the United States temporarily to work in their area of ability in the sciences, arts, business, education, and athletics or achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

O-2 nonimmigrant status is available for essential support personnel coming solely to assist an O-1 artist or athlete.

They must have critical skills and experience not possessed by a US worker and have a foreign residence which the O-2 has no intention of abandoning.

An employer or agent must submit a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) on the beneficiary’s behalf.

The changes have been published a new section in the USCIS Policy Manual.

The new section expands guidance on evaluating O-1 eligibility, including how officers determine if the petitioner has satisfied the evidentiary criteria and established that the beneficiary has extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement, as applicable.

It also clarifies when a petitioner may rely upon “comparable evidence” to meet the requirements for certain O-1 beneficiaries.

USCIS is also incorporating existing guidance relating to certain nonimmigrant athletes, coaches and entertainers (otherwise known as the P-1, P-2, and P-3 nonimmigrant classifications), and their essential support personnel into the Policy Manual.

Eligibility requirements for O-1 Extraordinary Ability in Sciences, Education, Business, or Athletics (commonly referred to as O-1A) include demonstration “by sustained national or international acclaim.”

Eligibility requirements for O-1 Extraordinary Achievement in Motion Picture or Television Industry (commonly referred to as O-1B (MPTV)) include “a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television productions.”


Senator Grassley raises concerns over misuse of O visa by potential H-1B applicants (July 20, 2017)

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