Artist Visas for the USA and Entertainer Visas for Foreigners
Who Are O-Visas & P-Visas For?
If you’re an artist or entertainer who wants to come to the United States, you could be eligible for a visa to do so based on your talent. Most artists and entertainers come to the U.S. on an O visa or P visa – and the type that’s right for you depends on your situation.
For most people, the best way forward is to work with an Austin immigration attorney who can explain each option and handle the entire application process.
Artist Visas for the USA
The two main types of visas that enable artists and entertainers to come to the U.S. are O and P. Each has its own requirements and is only available to specific people. Both are nonimmigrant visas, which means that neither is a path to citizenship. If you’re an artist or entertainer who wants to eventually become a U.S. citizen, you’ll probably want to choose a different type of visa – and your attorney can help.
O Visas for Artists and Entertainers Who Wish to Come to the U.S.
O nonimmigrant visas are reserved for individuals with extraordinary ability. For artists and entertainers, the specific visa necessary is the O-1B. To apply for an O-1B visa, a U.S. employer or agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent, should file the appropriate form on your behalf. (If you’re the employer or agent, your attorney will handle this for you.) The employer or agent must file the petition within one year of the date they need your services – but at least 45 days before that date. The petitioner must also provide evidence that demonstrates your extraordinary ability in the arts or motion picture industry, and that evidence must include at least three separate types of documentation that meets the U.S. government’s stringent requirements.
If you don’t meet the criteria for an O visa, the P visa may be right for you – and it’s covered below.
How Long Can You Stay in the U.S. on an O-1B Visa?
You can stay in the United States on an O-1B visa for up to three years. However, you may be able to extend your stay to continue or complete the same event or activity that brought you to the U.S. in the first place. In that case, you’ll need a handful of documents and a statement that explains why you want to extend.
Can Your Family Come to the U.S. With You if You Use an O-1B Visa as an Artist or Entertainer?
If you have a spouse and children under the age of 21, they may be able to apply for O-3 nonimmigrant visas that match your period of stay. Family members who come to the U.S. on an O-3 nonimmigrant visa cannot work, but they are permitted to attend school full- or part-time.
Who Can Petition for a Beneficiary as a U.S. Agent?
Agents can petition for a beneficiary who is traditionally self-employed, or for someone who uses an agent to arrange short-term employment with numerous employers. The agent may be the beneficiary’s official employer, a representative of the employer and the beneficiary, or another person or entity (such as a company) authorized by the employer to act in the employer’s place.
Using a P Visa as an Artist or Entertainer
There are three main types of P visas for artists and entertainers:
- P-1B visas
- P-2 visas
- P-3 visas
Here’s a closer look at each.
P-1B Visas for Members of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group
The P-1B nonimmigrant classification is for people who wish to come to the U.S. temporarily to perform as a member of an established and internationally recognized entertainment group. In order to qualify:
- At least 75 percent of the group’s members must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least a year
- The group must be internationally recognized and have a high level of achievement – one that makes the group well-known in more than one country
Some entertainers are exempt from the one-year requirement, such as alien circus performers and essential circus personnel. Likewise, some nationally known entertainment groups can have the “internationally recognized” requirement waived in some circumstances.
How Do You Apply for a P-1B Visa?
A U.S. employer, U.S. sponsoring organization, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent must submit the appropriate paperwork to the U.S. government. These entities often work with an Austin immigration attorney to handle the process. The application packet must include certain documents, including a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization and evidence that the group is internationally recognized.
What is the Period of Stay for a P-1B Visa?
The initial period of stay on a P-1B visa is up to one year. However, if you need more time, you can apply for an extension. Extensions are granted in increments of up to one year, as well, and are intended to allow the group to continue or complete the event, competition or performance.
Can Your Family Come With You on a P-1B Visa?
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for P-4 nonimmigrant status. They’re not permitted to work on a P-4 visa, but they can attend school or college.
P-2 Visas for Individual Performers or Part of a Group entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program
P-2 nonimmigrant visas are available to people who are coming as an individual entertainer or as part of a group who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program. You’re generally eligible for a P-2 artist or entertainer visa if you are part of one of the following programs:
- The American Federation of Musicians (U.S.) and the American Federation of Musicians (Canada)
- Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
- Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the British Actors’ Equity Association
- The International Council of Air Shows and the Canadian Air Show Association
- The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Screen Actor Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
You may also be eligible if you’re part of another program, which USCIS will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
What is the Period of Stay for a P-2 Visa?
The initial period of stay on a P-2 visa is the time necessary to complete the event, competition or performance, provided that it doesn’t exceed one year. You can extend in increments of one year at a time if necessary, though.
Can Your Family Come With You on a P-2 Visa?
Your family – specifically, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 – can come with you if they’re approved in P-4 nonimmigrant status.
P-3 Visas for Artists or Entertainers Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program
If you want a P-3 visa, which is available to artists and entertainers who will participate in a culturally unique program, you must come to the U.S. individually or as a group for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching or teaching something related to your culture. Additionally, the event must, according to USCIS, “further the understanding or development of your art form.”
What is the Period of Stay for a P-3 Visa?
You can stay in the U.S. on a P-3 visa for as long as it takes to complete the event, activity or performance, as long as it’s complete in one year or less. You can also extend your visa in increments of one year if necessary.
Can Your Family Come With You on a P-3 Visa?
Generally speaking, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to apply for P-4 status. Like the other P visa categories, spouses and children may not work but can attend school.
What About Essential Support Personnel?
Essential support personnel who are integral to a P visa entertainer’s performance may be eligible for the same classification.
Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About an Artist Visa for the USA or Entertainer Visas?
If you’re considering bringing artists or entertainers to the U.S., or if you’re an artist or entertainer from another country, we may be able to help you. Call our office today for a free consultation – we’ll be glad to answer your questions and get you started on the right path.