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Visas for Artists & Entertainers

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Visas for Artists & Entertainers

Sometimes called “the universal language,” art has the power to transcend the borders of culture and country, and people living in one part of the world can be moved to laughter or tears by a work of art created thousands of miles away.  However, if you want to bring your work as an artist into the United States, there are several legal procedures which must be obeyed to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations of the USCIS, or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Fortunately, there are numerous visa options currently available for artists who are interested in taking their talents into the United States.  Whether the beneficiary is considered extraordinary in their field and thereby warrants an O visa, or is simply coming to the U.S. to perform for a short amount of time, the experienced legal team at the law practice of Ken C. Gauvey can help.

To schedule your free and confidential legal consultation, or if you’d simply like to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance, call attorney Ken C. Gauvey at (443) 692-7685 today.  Let’s start exploring your options.

Types of Visas Available to Artists and Performers

There are two basic types of visas available for artists and performers: the O visa, and the P visa.  In turn, each of these designations can be broken down further into more specific categorizations.  Having a basic understanding of O versus P visas can help you make a determination as to which seems like the more appropriate fit for your needs.

The O Visa: Extraordinary Ability

If you are a person who demonstrates “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements,” you may be an excellent candidate for an O visa.

This visa permits an individual to enter the U.S. temporarily for a period of three years at a time, which can be renewed.  To apply, the artist will have to provide evidence demonstrating they have reached the top of their respective artistic field.  To quote USCIS regulations, “Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.”

However, O visas are broken down into several subcategories:

  • O-1B: Meant for individuals in the television or film industry.  (Designation O-1A is intended for persons outside of the arts, such as athletes and scientists.)
  • O-2: Meant for persons accompanying an O-1A or O-1B in order to assist in a performance. Where O-1Bs (i.e. artists) are concerned, this assistance must be deemed “essential” to the performance, and his or her “essential” skills must not be able to be “readily performed by a U.S. worker.”
  • O-3: Meant for the spouses and children of O-1’s and O-2’s.

Persons interested in applying for an O-1 visa must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, along with appropriate evidence as well as the current filing fee of $325. The USCIS notes, “Failure to submit duplicate copies may cause a delay in issuance of a visa abroad from the Department of State.”

The P Visa: Performing Entertainers

The P Visa is also broken down into several categories.  The P-1A visa is for athletes, but the remaining three designations — the P-1B, P-2, and P-3 visas — are all meant for entertainers.

  • P-1B (Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group): Meant for performing groups who have reached the top of their field.  The evidentiary standards for the P-1 are similar to those of the O-1 Visa.
  • P-2 (Performer of Group Performing Under Reciprocal Exchange Program): Meant for entertainers or groups who come from a country which has a mutual exchange program with the United States.
  • P-3 (Artist or Entertainer Part of a Culturally Unique Program): Meant for cultural exchanges. These are for artists who are considered culturally unique, and are coming to the U.S. to express their art form.

Just as with O visas, persons interested in obtaining a P visa must submit Form I-129, along with all necessary evidentiary documentation as well as the current filing fee of $325.

Gauvey Law

6700 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 200
Columbia, MD 21046