P Visa for Artists and Groups

The “P-1B” Visa for Members of Internationally Recognized Groups

The P-1B visa is available to foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time, and often in more than one country. Unlike the P-1A and O-1 classifications, the focus of the P-1B is on the entertainment group, not the individual. For example, one unique requirement of the P-1B visa is that the group must retain at least 75% of its members for one year. In addition, the group must demonstrate at least three of the following: 

  • Your group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements 
  • Your group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material      
  • Your group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials 
  • Your group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications 
  • 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, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence).

The P-1B visa is often granted to singers, musicians, dancers, entertainers, and circus personnel. To acquire P-1B status, an I-129 petition must be filed with USCIS. The petition must include the requisite consultation and employment contract, as well as an itinerary of events, evidence of group performances for at least one year, and evidence of the group’s international recognition. Individuals of the group then apply for the P-1B visa at a U.S. consulate. The status is generally good for one year and can be extended if necessary. Essential support personnel may also apply for P-1B status if their services are integral to the performance. Spouses and minor children may accompany the principal visa holder on the P-4 visa.

The “P-2” Visa for Reciprocal Exchange Programs for Artists and Entertainers

P-2 status may be granted to artists and entertainers who, either individually or as part of a group, are performing in the U.S. pursuant to a reciprocal exchange program. Such a program must be between U.S. organizations and overseas organizations that promote and provide for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers; it must also maintain similarity in the number, caliber, and employment of the artists and entertainers exchanged. A written advisory opinion from an appropriate labor organization is required for the P-2 designation, similar to the P-1 visa.

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM), and Actors’ Equity are the only P-2 exchange programs currently available. These visas are generally issued for 1 year but may be extended. P-2 spouses and minor children are eligible for the P-4 dependent visa.

The “P-3” Visa for Artists and Entertainers under a Culturally Unique Program

P-3 status may be granted to an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, to perform, teach, or coach in a culturally unique program that will further the understanding or development of the art form. Arts includes fields of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, and performing arts. Culturally unique means a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium which is unique to a particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group of persons. Examples include a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. In Matter of Skirball Culture Center, USCIS determined that culturally unique programs are not limited to traditional art forms and may include a fusion or hybrid of more than one culture or region. 

Like all other petitions of a P visa, the P-3 requires an I-129 petition with a consultation, employment contract, itinerary and event explanation, as well as evidence of the culturally unique programs and events. Essential support personnel subject to same requirements and must be integral to the performance. P-3 status is good for one year and can be extended if the circumstances require. Spouses and minor children may be eligible for the P-4 visa.