Entertainment Visa for the USA For Artists & Performers
Entertainers and artists who are not US citizens and who do not have a US Green Card will need to secure permission to enter the US to perform in a professional capacity.
This means applying for the relevant US entertainment visa and for work authorization relating to film, tv and theatre performances where the individual will be paid.
A lot is a stake for entertainers travelling to the US to perform. Contractual obligations, fan expectations and your own career aspirations and experience all ride on your visa being granted.
This means ensuring you select the most appropriate visa, and then compile an application that is thorough, comprehensive and supports your eligibility. Issues with visa applications can result in delayed processing or evern outirhgt refusals.
You will also have to pass the general grounds for admissibility as part of the visa application, which includes the good character requirement. Criminal convictions will be taken into consideration during adjudication. Taking professional advice can help you understand your options and whether you need for example to also submit a waiver of inadmissibility to address and prior criminal record.
Which entertainment Visa for the USA?
The visa options open to entertainers are limited, and within these options, the eligibility requirements are strict:
P Visa for performers
- P-1 for members of an entertainment group
- P-2 exchange program for artists and entertainers
- P-3 for artists and performers considered ‘culturally unique’
- P-4 for dependants and P for support employees.
The P-1 visa is for internationally recognized entertainment groups can for up to 1 year or a shorter, required duration for a specific performance or event. It is not suitable for individual applicants. Support workers deemed essential to the group’s performance may also qualify under the P-1.
Family members may also qualify under the P-4 visa.
A petition is filed with USCIS by the US employer of the entertainment group (or its US agent) along with a contract between the employer/agent and the entertainment group/individuals and an itinerary of the events in the US.
P-2 visa for artist exchange programs
The P-2 visa is for entertainers and artists to perform in the US under a government-recognized reciprocal exchange program
O-1 Exceptional Talent Visa for entertainers and artists
- O-1A for individuals who have been in receipt of a major, internationally recognized award
- O-1B for individuals who 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.
The O-1 visa is aimed specifically at individuals who can demonstrate extraordinary ability and worldwide recognition.
It allows temporary stay in the US for up to 3 years, and can be extended where the visa holder continues to meet the visa requirements.
The O visa permits the holder to bring their family to the US and it is a path to a US Green Card. can also lead to US permanent residence.
Applications require a petition to be made to USCIS followed by an interview at a US consular post in your country of residence.
You must evidence that you have “an extraordinary ability” in the arts, motion picture or television industry. You must also have an offer of employment in place relating to your field of expertise.
For the O1A Visa, you will need to provide at least three items of acceptable documentary evidence from the prescribed list, in support of your ability and achievements, such as proof of original contribution in your field, high salary, membership of prestigious organizations.
For the O-1B visa, you must show evidence that you 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, plus at least three items of acceptable documentary evidence from the prescribed list, in support of your ability and achievements, such as record of major commercial success, significant recognition for achievements, substantial remuneration
Each O-1 application must also include written testimony from a suitable person or organisation to verify expertise in the field of ability and a copy of a contract between the employer or agent and the artist or a summary of the terms of an oral contract.
Groups, support & entourages
The O-1 visa is only open to applications on an individual basis. A band for example would need to apply separately for an appropriate visa. The O-2 visa may apply where other performers in the group/band are not at the O-1 threshold but can demnstrate they are critical to the performance of the O-1 artist.
NNU Immigration specialize in US visas, supporting you with any queries relating to eligibility, timings and admissibility.
While the eligibility threshold for the P visa is set lower than that of the O-1 visa, the P visa is available to only a limited class of applicants. We can advise on the best option for your needs as a professional entertainer or artist, and those of your team and family, to give your application to perform in the US the best chance of success.
While premium processing of petitions is available, it is always recommended to file US visa petitions well in advance of travel to allow for any issues or complications to be addressed in good time.
Note also that readmission applications may follow a different process; take advice on your circumstances to clarify your position.
Contact us for advice on your visa options to perform in the USA, and for support with the relevant application process.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.