Are you an entertainer or a support staff member in the entertainment industry who needs legal assistance with immigration into the United States? In our collective experience, we have provided immigration support for international models, music bands performing in the United States, film and movie actors and their support personnel. Do you or your group qualify? Please get in touch with one of our attorneys for a personalized consultation and case review.
Accomplished Artist: The O-1 visa program provides a very specific non-immigrant (temporary) visa for artists and their support personnel with “extraordinary ability” in the entertainment industry. While international fame is usually an instant qualification, an artist only has to show significant reorganization or achievement in their field to qualify. The O-1 can be granted initially for up to three years, and extensions are permitted. This visa can also serve as a stepping stone to permanent residency for artists (EB-1 classification).
International Bands, their Musicians and Athletes: Because the O-1 visa program can only be used for individual artists, the P-1 visa is available to artists and entertainers coming to the United States to perform as a member of an entertainment group that are international renown, or for individual musicians who will join and tour with U.S. based bands. The P-1 visa has also been recently expanded to include athletes (professional or not professional) who perform at an internationally recognized level of performance, perform and athletes who perform individually or as part of a group theatrical production. The P-1 visa is granted in one year increments.
Artist or Athletes Participating in a Government Exchange Program: The P-2 visa is available to artists and entertainers coming to the United States temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that are participating in a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and one or more foreign organizations which provide for temporary exchange of artists, or entertainers.
Support Personnel and Management: The O-2 visa for technical and support personnel, such as sound engineers, trainers, production specialists, and for management in the entertainment industry to enter the United States in support of an 0-1 applicant. These visa applicants must describe the support personnel’s skills/experience with the artist or group, whether a longstanding relationship exist, and whether their participation is necessary for production. Because of the nature of their work these support personnel typically perform, these individuals can often qualify for an H-1B visa as well. Not sure what is which visa is right for you or your support personnel? Please get in touch with one of our attorneys for a personalized consultation and case review.
Culturally Unique Visas: Artists whose work is consider “culturally unique” individually or as part of a group may also qualify for a P-3 visa. To qualify for this visa program the individual or group must submit evidence, in the form of expert letters and published reviews, proving that the group is culturally unique and is coming to the United States to perform for culturally unique events. These events can be cultural or non-cultural programs, they do not have to be sponsored by educational, cultural or government programs.
On a P-3 visa, artists and entertainers may be admitted to the United States for the time needed to complete the event, activity or performance, not to exceed 1 year, initially. However, extensions of stay may also be granted to allow artist or entertainers to continue to complete the activity, event or performance.
Spouses and children of P visa applicants: The spouses and children of “P” visa applicants may also enter the United States. However they are unable to work in the United States but may study full or part time.
B-1 Visas for Artist and Entertainers: In certain limited circumstances, the B-1 visa may be appropriate for artists and entertainers to come to the United States temporarily. In most circumstances the B-1 visa is used when a professional entertainer will be coming to the United States to perform at a culturally unique event for a nonpaying audience, and the artist’s expenses are being paid by their government. The advantage of the B-1 visa is that unlike the O and P visas, no prior approval of a petition from USCIS is required for seeking a visa, which means lesser processing time and costs for the applicants.
In addition to the B-1 visa, armature artist and entertainers who are not being paid or otherwise compensated for their performance may be eligible for a B-2 visa. B-2 visas are typically used by armature artists or entertainers who will not be paid for their performance and will perform to support a charitable organization or as a competitor in a talent show or contest. A B-2 Tourist visa, like the B-1 Business visa, is a visitor visa and does not require prior approval of a petition by USCIS before filing the visa application.
Conclusion: Artists, entertainers, and performers who want to come to the United States to perform or exhibit their talents have many visa options to choose from. In their collective experience the attorneys at Capital Immigration Law Group we have provided immigration support for international models, music bands performing in the United States, film and movie actors and their support personnel.
The O-1 visa program allows highly regarded artists or groups admission to the United States for up to three years, however the eligibility criteria is very high and most amateur artist would have trouble meeting the criteria. On the other hand the eligibly criteria for P visas is not as high as the 0-1 visas. The P-1 visa can be used by internationally recognized entertainment groups, and their artists or entertainers and athletes who will be performing in the United States with U.S. based organizations. The P-2 visa is similar to the P-1 visa program, however to qualify the individual or group must be part of a reciprocal exchange program between a U.S. and international organization. The P-3 visa is limited or artist or entertainers who are coming to the United States to perform in a culturally unique program that is unique to that individual’s culture, tribe, ethnicity, etc. The B-1 visa does not require prior approval by USCIS, but since artist may not be compensated for their performance, its applicability is limited to certain limited circumstance.
This article is only intended to provide an overview of the various visa programs that allow an artist to perform in the United States. Artist and entertainers, as well as their employers and agents should clearly understand their various options, so they will be best able to pick the visa program that is most suitable for them in their particular situation. Accordingly, we recommend speaking with one of our experienced immigration attorneys who will be able to provide you with a clear and comprehensive immigration plan. Want to know more? Please get in touch with one of our attorneys for a personalized consultation and case review.