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Chapter 11 - P Visas: Performing Artists & Athletes
by Mark A Ivener

Certain artists, entertainers, and athletes may come to the United States temporarily to perform services for an employer or a sponsor under the P nonimmigrant visa category. The alien must have a residence in a foreign country which he/she has no intention of abandoning.

THE P-1 VISA

A foreign national who is coming to the United States to perform as an internationally recognized athlete or member of an internationally recognized athlete or a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group may qualify under the P-1 category.

  1. WHO IS ELIGIBLE
  2. To qualify for a P-1 visa, the alien, must be coming temporarily to perform at specific athletic competition, individually or as part of a team, at an internationally recognized level of performance. An individual who is coming to perform with an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as being outstanding in their discipline may also qualify for a P-1 visa. He/she must be an integral and essential part of the performance and have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for at least one year. An exception to this rule may be made in the case where an alien augments a group by performing in a critical role, or where an alien because of illness of unanticipated circumstances, replaces a member of a P-1 group.

  3. HOW TO APPLY
  4. A P-1 petition may be filed by a U.S. or foreign employer on Form I-129, "Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker", with the INS Service Center which has jurisdiction in the area where the alien will work. Consultation with a labor organization that has expertise in the area of the alien's sport or entertainment field is required. The advisory opinion must evaluate and/or describe the alien's or group's ability and achievements in the field of endeavor, comment on whether the alien or group is internationally recognized for achievements, and state whether the services the alien or group is coming to perform are appropriate for an internationally recognized athlete or entertainment group.

    A) In the case of an athlete, he/she must have an internationally recognized reputation as an international athlete, or he/she must be a member of a foreign team that is internationally recognized. The athlete or team must be coming to the U.S. to participate in a athletic competition which has a distinguished reputation, and which requires participation of an athlete or athletic team that has an international reputation. The petition must be accompanied by the following:

    1. A tendered contract with a major U.S. sports league or team, or a contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition; and
    2. At least two of the following:
      1. Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season with a major U.S. sports league;
      2. Evidence of having participated in international competition with a national team;
      3. Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition;
      4. A written statement from an official of a major U.S. sports league or an official of the governing body of sports which details how the alien is internationally recognized;
      5. A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized;
      6. Evidence that the individual or team is ranked if the sport has internationally rankings; or
      7. Evidence that the alien or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.

    B) In the case of an entertainment group, it must be established that the group has been internationally recognized as outstanding for a sustained and substantial period of time. Seventy five percent of the group must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for at least one year, and must provide functions integral to the group's performance. The petitions must be accompanied by:

    1. Evidence that the group, under the name shown on the petition, has been established and performing regularly for at least one year;
    2. 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; and
    3. Evidence that the group has been internationally recognized in the discipline. This may be demonstrated by 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:
      1. Evidence that the group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity released, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
      2. Evidence that the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievements as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other published materials;
      3. Evidence that the group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trader journal, publications, or testimonials;
      4. Evidence that the group 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 newspaper, or other publications;
      5. Evidence that the group 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 which clearly indicated the author's authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien's achievements; or
      6. Evidence that the group has commanded or now commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

  5. DURATION OF THE VISA
  6. A P-1 petition for an individual athlete may initially be valid for up to five years. Extensions of stay may granted thereafter, however, the total period of stay may not exceed ten years. An approved petition for an athletic team or entertainment group may be valid for the period of time necessary to complete the competition or event, but may not initially exceed one year. Extensions of stay may thereafter be authorized by INS in one year increments.

  7. STATUS OF SPOUSE AND MINOR CHILDREN
  8. The spouse and unmarried minor children of P-1 visa holders are eligible for P-4 visas. They are subject to the same period of admission as the principal alien. The spouse and children may not accept employment on a P-4 visa.

THE P-2 VISA

  1. WHO IS ELIGIBLE
  2. To qualify for a P-2 Visa, the applicant must be coming to the United States to perform as a artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country.

  3. HOW TO APPLY
  4. The Petition must be filed with the INS Regional Service Center which as jurisdiction over the area in which the lien will work. The petition may be filed by the sponsoring organization in the United States, a U.S. employer, or an agent. It must be filed with the following evidence:

    1. Written consultation with an appropriate labor organization to verify the existence of a viable exchange program;
    2. A copy of the formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the U.S. organization sponsoring the alien and the organization in the foreign country which will receive the U.S. artists or entertainers;
    3. A statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange program, including the name of the receiving organization abroad, names and occupations of U.S. artist or entertainers being sent abroad, length of their stay, activities in which will be engaged, and the terms and conditions of their employment; and
    4. Copies of evidence the alien, and the U.S. artists or entertainer involved in the reciprocal program are experienced artists with comparable skills, and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar.

  5. DURATION OF THE VISA
  6. The P-2 Visa may be valid for the period of time necessary to complete the event, activity, or performance, however, it may not initially exceed one year. Thereafter, the INS may authorize extension of stay in increments of one year to complete the same event to activity for which the alien was admitted.

  7. STATUS OF SPOUSE AND MINOR CHILDREN
  8. A spouse and unmarried minor children are eligible for P-4 Visas, and are entitled to the same period of admission and limitations as the principal alien. The spouse and unmarried minor children may not accept employment on a P-4 visa.

THE P-3 VISA

  1. WHO IS ELIGIBLE
  2. A P-3 visa may be granted to artists or entertainers (individually or as a group) who are recognized in a particular field for excellence in developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a culturally unique or traditional ethnic folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. The applicant must be coming to the United States to further the understanding or development of his/her art form. He/she must be sponsored by educational, cultural, or governmental organizations which promote international cultural activities and exchange. The program may be commercial or noncommercial in nature.

  3. HOW TO APPLY
  4. The Petition must be filed with the INS Regional Service Center which as jurisdiction over the area in which the alien will work. The petition may be filed by the sponsoring organization in the United States, a U.S. employer. It must be filed with the following evidence:

    1. Documentation that the alien or group has performed or was involved teaching or coaching productions or events involving the presentation of culturally unique performances for a substantial period of time;
    2. Documentation that the alien or group has achieved national or international recognition for excellence in the field as evidenced by critical reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials; or
    3. Documentation that the alien or group has received recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, cultural agencies, or other recognized experts in the field.

    A "P-3" petition must also be accompanied by:

    1. Affidavits, testimonials, or letters from recognized experts attesting to the authenticity of the alien's or group's skill in performing, coaching, teaching or presenting the unique art form. It must also explain the level of recognition accorded to the alien or group in the native country or another country, and give the credentials of the expert;
    2. Evidence that most of the performances will be culturally unique events sponsored by educational, cultural, or governmental agencies;
    3. Written consultation with an appropriate labor organization which evaluates the cultural uniqueness of the alien's skills. whether the events are mostly cultural in nature, and stating whether U.S. workers are available who can perform support services.

  5. DURATION OF THE VISA
  6. The P-3 Visa may be valid for the period of time necessary to complete the event, activity, or performance, however, it may not initially exceed one year. Thereafter, the INS may grant extensions of stay in increments of one year to complete the event to activity for which the alien was admitted.

  7. STATUS OF SPOUSE AND MINOR CHILDREN
  8. A spouse and unmarried minor children are eligible for P-4 visas, and are entitled to the same period of admission and limitations as the principal alien. The spouse and unmarried minor children may not accept employment on a P-4 visa.


About The Author
Mark Ivener has been practicing law in Los Angeles for 30 years. He has lectured on U.S. immigration law for the World Trade Institute in New York, Houston, Chicago, and San Francisco. He has also lectured for the International Bar Association in Munich, Madrid, and New York. Mr. Ivener has participated in many immigration seminars for the Law Societies of British Columbia and Alberta and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

He has authored the books, Handbook of Immigration Law, Volumes I and II [1980; 2nd edition, 1982; and 3rd edition, 1986; Online edition, 1999]; Doing Business in the U.S.A. Under Free Trade [1989; 2nd edition, 1990]; Get The Right Visa [1992; 2nd edition 1994]; A Complete Guide To Getting An American Visa (in Japanese) 1993; 2nd edition 1994; 3rd edition 1997]; and Have You Thought About Immigrating To The U.S.? (in Spanish) [1995]. He has also written many articles on immigration law which have appeared in the International Law Journal, the Canadian-American Bar Association Newsletter, Business and the Law and World Trade Trends.

Mr. Ivener is a founding member of IMMLAW, The National Consortium of Immigration Law Firms. Also, Mr. Ivener is listed in the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers;



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