Immigration: Questions and Answers on P-1 Visas for Artists

We are now officially entering the summer season and that means that reggae festivals and cultural programs will be in full swing. Renowned international artists will be coming to the United States to perform and agents and organizations are now extremely busy trying to finalize their artists’ performance schedule and locations. This article will briefly answer the most frequently asked questions about obtaining a visa for a performing artist.

Question 1: What are the general requirements for obtaining my visa to come to the United States to perform?
Answer: The P-1 entertainment visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals who are athletes, artists and entertainers to enter into the U.S. for a specific event, competition or performance. A P-1 visa entitles the holder to participate in an event in the US. A P-1 visa is usually granted to entertainers/artists for the duration of their specific event only and will not exceed 1 year. Essential support personnel wishing to accompany P1 visa applicants may be eligible to apply for a P-1 visa if their skills and experience are essential to the principle applicant’s performance. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for the applicable derivative visa (P4 visa) to join their spouse or parent in the US. Accompanying spouses and children are entitled to study in the United States but are not permitted to work in the United States unless they have obtain their own independent work visa. Generally the P-1 visa applicant must show that he or she has already received some national or international reputation for his/her talent and the applicant must have secured a US employer who is inviting them to come to the United States for a specific time period to perform. Immigration does require that the applicant provide the proper documentation to show his or her expertise/recognition.

Question 2: I would like to come to the United States to perform for the summer. Do I need to have a performance schedule before I apply for my visa?
Answer: Generally Immigration does not require that your performance schedule be complete. However, Immigration does require that the applicant have documentation as to where the applicant will be performing and the maximum length of the time that the applicant will be in the United States in this status.

Question 3:  The company that wants to hire me to perform wants me to perform for at least two years. Is this is possible?
Answer: Applicants may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to five years with extensions not to exceed a total stay of ten years. However, please note that Immigration is not going to grant the applicant a 5 year visa when you first apply for a P-1 visa. The applicant will be required to apply for one year extensions and provide Immigration with documentation as to why the extensions are required.

Question 4: The company that has hired me to perform has already submitted my application but it is taking a very long time to be approved. Is it possible to expedite the process?
Answer: Unfortunately the processing time on a P-1 visa can take several months. However, Immigration does provide that applicants can take advantage of premium processing. Premium processing service is available only on select applications. Premium processing allows Immigration to review and issue a decision on a pending artist visa application for an additional fee of $1,1225. We have successfully utilized the premium processing for a number of artist visa cases to expedite the application process.


Disclaimer: This article is a broad overview of the proposed immigration reform. This article is not legal advice and should not be taken as legal advice. This article is provided as a public service and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any reliance on the information contained herein is taken at your own risk. The information provided in this article should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed. 

About the Writer:
Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm, Inc. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica.  Attorney Byars shows her clients the best ways to get their cases approved the FIRST time while reducing processing times and avoiding immigration red flags that result in delays, denials, and deportation.  Her office is located at 3720 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite D2, Chamblee, Georgia 30341. Attorney Byars handles all immigration matters, deportation defense, family law, and criminal issues. Attorney Byars can be reached at 678-736-5600, 404-992-6506 or via email at [email protected].