What do the Beatles, Heidi Klum, and the National Acrobats of The People’s Republic of China have in common? In order to perform in the United States, they had to get approval from the government. All foreign artists and entertainers who want to work in America must go through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Foreign guest artists must normally obtain one of the following:
- O-1 Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement;
- P-1B Visa for a Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group;
- P-2 Visa for an Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program; or
- P-3 Visa for an Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program.
Each of these temporary visas is appropriate in different situations. Filing for the wrong type of visa can significantly delay an entertainer’s entrance into the country.
O-1 Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry who want to come to the United States temporarily to practice their craft are typically eligible for an O-1B Visa.
In order to obtain an O-1B Visa, the applicant must have received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, or provide evidence of at least (3) three of the following requirements:
- Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements.
- Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications.
- Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.
- A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications.
- Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements.
- A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.
P-1B Visa for a Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group
The P-1B Visa is available to individuals coming to the United States temporarily to perform as a member of an internationally known entertainment group.
In order to qualify for a P-1B Visa, the applicant must provide evidence demonstrating:
- At least 75 percent of the members of the group have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year.
- The entertainment group is internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.
P-2 Visa for an Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program
The P-2 Visa is infrequently granted. It is available only to artists and entertainers participating in a bilateral, reciprocal exchange program between an entity in the U.S. and an entity in a given foreign country. There are very few programs in existence whose participants qualify for P-2 Visas
P-3 Visa for an Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program
Entertainers coming to the United States either individually or as a group for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation are eligible for a P-3 Visa.
Although the program bringing the entertainer to the United States can be commercial or noncommercial nature, it is essential that the program further the understanding or development of the art form practiced by the entertainer.
Families & Support Personnel
The immigration law recognizes that entertainers do not often travel alone. Necessary support staff and certain family members, specifically spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, may often obtain visas allowing them to accompany entertainers temporarily working in the United States.
If you are a performing entertainer seeking to enter the United States, you need the advice of an experienced immigration attorney to determine which visa to apply for and to guide you through the process. Contact us today for a consultation