P-1 entertainer visas are reserved for foreign nationals who perform (or are an integral part of the performance). Entertainers admitted as P-1 nonimmigrants must perform as part of a group or must be “essential support”. It is the stature of the group, and not of the individual members, that is determinative. The group must be internationally recognized as outstanding for a sustained period. The entertainment group may be either U.S.- or foreign-based; there is no requirement, that other members of the group qualify for P-1 classification, or even be noncitizens.
In order to qualify under the P-1 nonimmigrant visa category, the following documentation is required:
- Evidence that the group has been established and performing regularly for a period of at least one year;
- A statement listing each member of the group and the exact dates which that member has been employed on a regular basis by the group, and
- Evidence that the group is internationally recognized in the discipline. This may be demonstrated by the submission of evidence of the group’s nomination or receipt of significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in its field or by three of the following different types of documentation showing that the group:
- Has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
- Has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in their field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other published material
- 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;
- Has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by such indicators as ratings, standing in the field, box office receipts, record, cassette, or video sales, and other achievements in the field as reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
- Has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field. Such testimonials must be in a form that clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements; or
- Has commanded or 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 regulations allow a U.S. employer or agent to file petitions. The employer or agent serving as the petitioner/sponsor takes responsibility for the accuracy of the facts stated in the petition. The petitioner/sponsor must provide evidence, such as a written contract with the beneficiary, that it will guarantee the terms and conditions of employment. The petitioner/sponsor is responsible for return transportation costs in the event of early termination.
Generally, no P visa may be approved unless an appropriate consultation with a labor organization has taken place. Consultations are not binding on USCIS.
A consultation for a P-1 entertainment group must address the group’s ability and achievements in the field of endeavor, whether the group is internationally recognized, and whether the services to be performed require an internationally recognized entertainment group.
The P category is subject to the presumption of immigrant intent, requiring the foreign national to prove entitlement to nonimmigrant status to consular officers and immigration inspectors alike. The P-1 classification requires holders to possess a residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning and prove they are seeking to enter the U.S. temporarily.
Period of Stay:
P-1 entertainment groups may be admitted for the period of time necessary to complete the performance or event. The P regulations define the terms, “competition, event, or performance,” as follows:
an activity such as a tour, exhibit, project, entertainment event, or engagement. Such an activity could include short vacations, promotional appearances for the petitioning employer relating to the competition, event, or performance, and stopovers which are incidental and/or related to the activity. An entertainment event could include an entire season of performances. A group of related activities will also be considered an event.
- Initial period of stay can be up to one year with extensions in one-year increments based on continuing need. P nonimmigrants may be admitted up to 10 days prior to the validity period and may remain 10 days thereafter, but they are not permitted to work during those 10-day periods
Dependent Family Members:
- Dependents including legal spouses and children under 21 years of age are eligible for P-4 status. Work authorization is not permitted.
- Requires submission and approval of an P-1 Visa Petition with supporting evidence to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Following approval, the employee must apply for and obtain an P-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad before being admitted to the U.S.
- Canadian citizens are considered visa-exempt and may be admitted with an P-1 approval notice and valid passport.
- USCIS processing times are subject to change but average 2 months unless premium processing service is used, in which case USCIS will review the petition with 15 calendar days.
- Visa appointment availability is subject to change but appointments are generally available within 1-2 weeks, with visas being issued within 7-10 days following, assuming no government administrative processing delays.
Maintaining P-1 Visa Status:
- The visa is employer-specific, meaning that an employee cannot change employers without government authorization.
- The visa is job-specific, meaning that an employee cannot change positions without government authorization if a material change in job duties will occur.