When athletes, artists, entertainers want to visit the United States individually or as groups, there are four types of visas available. These are all non-immigrant visas, meaning they do not allow you to relocate permanently to the U.S.
P-1A: Internationally recognized athlete or team
A P-1A visa is intended for athletes and athletic teams who are coming to the U.S. for a specific competition and who are internationally recognized in the sport. Being internationally recognized means having a high level of achievement, demonstrated by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that of the ordinary participant. The achievement must be leading, renowned or well-known in more than one country. The competition you are coming for must itself have a distinguished reputation and be at an internationally recognized level of performance, too.
If you are coming as a member of a team, the team must itself have achieved international recognition.
There are specific rules for professional athletes, amateur athletes and coaches, and theatrical ice skaters.
P-1B: Members of internationally recognized entertainment groups
This visa allows members of internationally known entertainment groups to come to the U.S. for performances.
In order for your group to qualify, it must have been established for at least a year and recognized internationally as outstanding in your discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. At least 75% of the members must have had a sustained, substantial relationship with the group for at least a year.
The rules are different for circus performers, and there may be special circumstances. If you’re worried you might not qualify, talk to an immigration attorney.
P-2: Individuals or groups performing under reciprocal exchange programs
P-2 visas can be for individual artists or groups, but they must be coming to perform under a government-recognized reciprocal exchange program between the U.S. and another country.
In order to qualify, you must have skills comparable to the U.S. artists and entertainers who are taking part in the program.
The following five reciprocal agreements pre-qualify:
- The American Federation of Musicians (U.S.) and the American Federation of Musicians (Canada)
- Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
- Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the British Actors’ Equity Association
- The International Council of Air Shows and the Canadian Air Show Association
- The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Screen Actor Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
P-3: Artists and entertainers coming to be part of a culturally unique entertainment program
P-3 visas are for individuals and groups who are coming to the U.S. temporarily in order to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical or artistic performance or presentation. You must also be coming to participate in a cultural event or events that will further the understanding or development of your art form.
Both commercial and non-commercial artists and groups are eligible.
Talk to an immigration law attorney
These visas require proof that you are internationally recognized, are involved in a cultural exchange, or are culturally unique or traditional. You may need evidence of your reputation or that of your team or group. There are pitfalls for the unwary, so contact Yew Immigration Law Group for assistance. We have years of experience helping people and groups come to the United States.