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Non-Immigrant Work Visas for Group Entertainers

In addition to the many conventional non-immigrant work visas, including the H visa, O visas for people with extraordinary abilities and L visas for intracompany transferees, there are other categories of temporary work visas tailored to specific groups of foreign nationals. One such visa is the P visa for group entertainers. The P visa is a temporary non-immigrant work visa that allows entertainers to work (perform) in the United States. There are three different sub-categories for entertainers: P-1B visa for members of an internationally recognized entertainment group; P-2 visa for performers under a reciprocal exchange program; and P-3 visa for artists and entertainers participating in a culturally unique program.

P-1B Visa for Group Entertainers

The P-1B visa is available only to members of an entertainment group with an international reputation. In order to qualify for this type of visa, the entertainment group has to have been internationally recognized as being outstanding in its field for a substantial period of time, and that each individual is an integral and essential part of the group, and has had a sustained relationship with the group for at least a year. However, the last requirement can be circumvented and an individual’s time with the group can be less, if at least 75 percent of the members have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for at least one year.

This visa is not available to individual entertainers, who would have to qualify for an O visa. However, while individual performers and entertainers that do not perform in a group have to apply for an O-1 visa, the P-1B visa could be a viable option given that solo artists usually perform with back-up performers and/or musicians, and they could potentially be classified as a group, if it can be demonstrated that at least 75 percent of the participants in the act have performed together for at least a year. If however that requirement cannot be met, then the individual performer has to apply for and qualify for an O-1 visa, and the supporting performers for an O-2 visa.

Generally, in order to demonstrate international recognition, the group has to either show nomination for, or receipt of, significant international awards or prizes or at least 3 of the following:

  • Your group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading in an event with distinguished reputation;
  • Your group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major publications;
  • Your group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Your group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record sales, and other achievements;
  • Your group has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field;
  • Your group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field.

Notably, circus performers and essential personnel are exempt from the one-year and the international recognition requirements. Furthermore, the international recognition requirement can be waived for certain groups, if the group can show that it has been recognized nationally as outstanding in its discipline for a sustained amount of time in consideration of special circumstances, including limited access to media or problematic geographical location.

By contrast to an athletic P-1A visa, which can be granted for up to 5 years, a P-1B visa to a member of an entertainment group is granted for the duration of the event, tour, or season, up to a maximum of one year.

P-2 Visas for Participants in a Reciprocal Exchange Program

This is a visa for artists and entertainers who, either individually or as part of a group, are set to perform under a government recognized reciprocal exchange program between a US organization and at least one organization abroad. In addition, the foreign artists have to demonstrate comparable skills to those of the US artists taking part in the program abroad. A P-2 visa is granted for the time necessary to complete the event or participation up to maximum of one year.

P-3 Visas for Participants in a Culturally Unique Program

This type of visa is for artists and entertainers who are coming to the United States to perform, develop, or teach in a culturally unique program, and the individual or group’s participation will further the understanding or development of an art form. The program does not have to be sponsored by an educational or cultural institution, nor a government agency, and it can be either commercial or non-profit. As with a P-2 visa, this type of visa is granted for the time necessary to complete the event or participation up to maximum of one year.

All three of the above-discussed visas allow for the visa holder’s spouse and/or minor children (under 21 years of age) to obtain a P-4 status and to join him/her in the United States. While they are not eligible to work, they can attend school or college while on a P-4 status.

Hiring a California Immigration Attorney

For a more detailed information or questions about the P-1B visa, or if you are an individual performer wanting to discuss all possible visa options, including whether an O visa could be a better or a more viable option, please contact The Justice Firm locally at 310-914-2444 or our Toll-Free number at 866-695-6714, or visit us on our website.

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