P Visas: Artists, Athletes, Entertainers

At the Law Office of Matthew I. Hirsch, we have experience working with foreign citizens coming to the U.S. as artists, athletes and entertainers. The firm’s clients have included dance troupes, orchestral musicians and cultural entertainers as well as professional baseball and soccer players, track and field athletes and artists. In addition, we have served as immigration counsel to an international dance festival, for a world-renowned orchestra and for a professional sports league, providing strategy and services relating to U.S. immigration laws.

By way of background, the P visa category is available to foreign citizens coming to the U.S. to perform individually or as part of a group or team. In general, a Petition for P status must be filed by a U.S. employer or agent, and must be accompanied by evidence of a contract, itinerary or other documents showing the nature and extent of the engagement. In general, a Petition for P status must be accompanied by a consultation or advisory opinion from a labor organization confirming the qualifications of the applicant. There are several types of P visas, including:

P-1:  Athletes and Group Entertainers

To qualify for a P-1, evidence must be presented to demonstrate that the individual or group is “internationally recognized.” International recognition is defined as a high level of achievement in a field, evidenced by a degree of skill substantially above that which is considered ordinary, to the extent such achievement is renowned or well known in more than one country.

Evidence for P-1 Athletes must include the following:

  • a contract with a major U.S. sports league or team, or contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in that sport
  • evidence in at least two (2) of the following categories:
    • documents showing significant prior participation with a major U.S. sports league;
    • documents showing participation in international competition with a national team;
    • documents showing significant prior participation in intercollegiate competition in for a U.S. college or university;
    • a statement from an official of the governing body of the sport confirming international recognition;
    • a statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert confirming international recognition;
    • documents showing that the individual or team is internationally ranked;
    • documents showing that the alien or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.

Please Note: special rules apply to minor league athletes, professional or amateur ice skaters and circus personnel.

Evidence for P-1 Performers must include the following:

  • a statement from the petitioner listing each member of the group and the exact dates for which each member has been employed on a regular basis by the group – in general, 75% of the group must have had a sustained relationship with the group for at least one year;
  • evidence that the group has been performing regularly for at least one year;
  • evidence that the group has been internationally recognized for a sustained and substantial period of time, demonstrated by establishing the group’s nomination or receipt of significant international awards for outstanding achievement in its field or by providing evidence in three (3) of the following categories:
    • documents showing that the group has performed and will perform as a leading entertainment group in productions or with a distinguished reputation, as shown by critical reviews, advertisements, publications or endorsements;
    • documents showing that the group has achieved international recognition for outstanding achievement in its field, as shown by reviews in major newspapers, magazines or other published material;
    • documents showing that the group has performed or will perform services as a leading group for organizations with a distinguished reputation;
    • documents showing that the group has achieved major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by ratings, standing in the field, sales and other achievements;
    • documents showing that the group has achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or recognized experts in the field; or
    • documents showing that the group has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary compared to others similarly situated in the field.

P-2:  Artists in Reciprocal Exchange Programs

This status is designed for Artists and entertainers who enter the U.S. to participate in a reciprocal exchange program. The P-2 visa type does not require a showing of prominence or experience in the field. A reciprocal exchange program is based on an agreement between an organization(s) in the U.S. and an organization(s) in one or more foreign countries, which provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers.

To qualify for a P-2, the applicant must demonstrate:

  • non-immigrant intent, i.e. a firm desire and intent to return to the home country after the authorized grant of stay;
  • a desire to enter the U.S. temporarily and solely for the purpose of performing as an artist or entertainer or with such a group under a reciprocal exchange program;
  • skills comparable to those of the U.S. entertainer participating in the reciprocal exchange program.

In addition, a Petition for a P-2 Beneficiary must include:

  • a copy of the reciprocal exchange agreement between the U.S. and foreign organization which sponsor the foreign and U.S. artist or entertainers;
  • a statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange of U.S. artists or entertainers;
  • evidence that a U.S. labor organization was involved in negotiating the reciprocal exchange of U.S. and foreign artists or entertainers;
  • evidence that the foreign and U.S. artists and entertainers have comparable skills, and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar;
  • verification that the foreign and U.S. artists and entertainers are subject to the same terms, length and conditions of employment and similar number of artists or entertainers involved in the exchange.

P-3:  Culturally Unique Artists

This status applies to artists or entertainers who are coming to the U.S. primarily for a cultural event to further the understanding or development of that art form. “Culturally unique” is defined as a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium that is unique to a particular country, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group of persons.

To qualify for a P-3, applicants must demonstrate that they have:

  • non-immigrant intent, i.e. a firm desire and intent to return to the home country after the authorized grant of stay;
  • a desire to enter the U.S. temporarily and solely to perform, teach, or coach in a program that is culturally unique;
  • experience as a performance artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group.

In addition, a Petition for a P-3 Beneficiary must include:

  • affidavits or testimonials from experts attesting to the authenticity of the alien’s or group’s skills in performing, presenting, coaching, or teaching the unique art form;
  • documentation that the performance of the alien or group is culturally unique, as evidence by reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials;
  • evidence that all of the performances or presentations in the U.S. will be culturally unique events.

At the Law Office of Matthew I. Hirsch, we have worked with many artists, athletes and entertainers and their sponsors on applications for P visa status. We have an excellent record of success in helping individuals and groups achieve their temporary and long-term U.S. immigration goals. For more information and details about P visas, please contact us.