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How to Enter the U.S. on an Entertainment Visa

by Ally Bolour | May 12, 2021

entertainment visa lawyer

If you wish to come to the United States to perform as part of an entertainment group, you may be eligible for a P-1B visa, or entertainment visa. Below is a summary of the general requirements and the process for applying for an entertainment visa. 

Who Is Eligible for a P-1B visa?

The P-1B classification is intended for entertainers, from rock musicians to theatrical performers, who are coming to the United States temporarily to perform as part of an entertainment group. Solo performers are not eligible for a P-1B visa.

The entertainment group, which can be U.S.-based or foreign-based, must have been established for at least a year, and it must be internationally recognized as outstanding in its discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. Further, at least 75 percent of the members of the group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least a year. For foreign-based groups, the group must consist of at least two beneficiaries entering to perform with the group.

Circus groups are exempt from the one-year requirement and the international recognition requirement. Certain other nationally known entertainment groups may be able to get the international recognition requirement waived, as well.

Length of Stay

The P-1B visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa. Initially available for up to one year, the visa will be limited to the time needed to complete the event, such as a rock group’s U.S. concert tour or a theater group’s schedule of shows. The visa could be extended in increments of up to one year for the purpose of continuing or completing the event. 

Benefits and Limitations

As a P-1B visa holder, you will have many benefits. Your travel will be unrestricted, and you can study part-time in the United States. Your spouse and unmarried children under age 21, as well as essential support personnel, can also apply for visas for the same duration as yours. 

Entertainment visas have limitations, however. You are not allowed to work beyond what you do for the entertainment group, and your dependents’ visas do not permit them to work, either, although they can attend school.  

P-1B Visa Application Process

The first step in the application process is for a U.S. employer, U.S. sponsoring organization, a U.S. agent or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent to file a petition on your behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petitioner must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, which must be accompanied by several documents, including an itinerary with dates and locations of the performances and a copy of the contract, or a summary of the terms of an oral agreement, between you and the petitioner. The petitioner will also need to submit evidence that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least a year and that it is internationally acclaimed. Evidence must include a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization. The group must also show that it has received or been nominated for significant international awards or, if that is not the case, it must present at least three categories of lesser evidence demonstrating its international recognition, such as articles in newspapers or trade journals, testimonials, publicity releases, contracts, endorsements, high ratings, box office receipts, record sales or high compensation compared to others doing similar work. 

After the Petition is Approved

If USCIS approves the petition, you can apply for your visa using Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. In almost all cases, you will also need to schedule an interview with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live.

Planning for the Future

As a P-1B visa holder, you may decide that you would like to make the United States your home after the performances are over. If you are interested in remaining in the United States, contact an immigration lawyer to weigh your options for applying to adjust your status. Bolour/Carl Immigration Group is a full-service immigration law firm. If you would like to discuss entertainment visas or other matters with an immigration lawyer, contact us at 323-857-0034 or [email protected].

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