Temporary Visa for Internationally Recognized Group Entertainers: the P-1B Visa
P-1B non-immigrant visas provide for temporary admission of internationally recognized group entertainers, who perform with or are an integral or essential part of an entertainment group that has been internationally recognized as being outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. The sole purpose for temporarily entering the United States must be to perform in a competition, event, or performance.
Primary Requirements and Considerations for the P-1B Visa
- The foreign national must be coming to the United States temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. Performers must have a sustained and substantial relationship with the group over a period of at least one year.
- Internationally recognized means “a high level of achievement, evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well known in more than one country.” The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is essential. This includes groups that are U.S.-based.
- An entertainment group may consist of as few as 2 people, and the manner by which the act is billed is not determinative. If a solo artist or entertainer traditionally performs with back-up singers or musicians, the act can be classified as a group so long as the group has been established for at least one year and at least 75% of them have been together for at least one year. If the group does not meet the 75% rule, then the solo artist must qualify for another visa status, such as O-1, with support musicians as O-2s.
- Both the international recognition requirement and the one-year prior relationship requirement may be waived in some cases. A group that is nationally recognized for a sustained and substantial period of time may obtain a waiver if there are special circumstances. The one-year prior relationship requirement does not apply to 25% of performers or entertainers in any group and may be waived for any performer or entertainer who replaces an essential member of the group because of illness or other exigent circumstances or because the performer or entertainer augments the group by performing a critical role.
- Circus Performers: Circus personnel performing as part of a circus or circus group are exempt from the international recognition and one-year prior relationship requirements, provided that they are part of or are joining a circus with sustained national recognition.
- Essential support personnel can qualify for P-1 support status if the foreign national is an integral part of the performance of the P-1B, because he or she performs support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and that are essential to the successful performance of services. Essential support personnel, such as front office personnel, camera operators, lighting technicians and stage personnel, must have appropriate qualifications to perform the services, critical knowledge of the specific services, and experience in providing such support. Multiple support personnel may be included on one petition if it involves the same period of time and the same services. To obtain P-1 status as essential support personnel, there must be a principal P-1B visa holder, and the petitioner must submit a consultation with a labor organization, a statement regarding the person’s prior essentiality, critical skills, and experience with the principal petitioner, and a copy of the contract or summary of oral contract.
- Qualifying petitioners are U.S. employers, sponsoring organizations, agents, and foreign employers through U.S. agents.
- The petitioning U.S. employer must submit a consultation from an appropriate labor organization with the P-1B visa petition. The consultation must describe the work or services to be performed in the United States, the foreign worker’s or group’s qualifications for such work, andthe international recognition involved. If no appropriate labor organization exists, this requirement is excused.
- Multiple employers and multiple worksites are permitted under certain circumstances. Multiple employer petitions may be filed by a person or company in the business as an agent if (1) the supporting documentation includes a complete itinerary of the services or engagements; (2) the itinerary specifies the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of performance venues; (3) the contracts between each employer and the beneficiary are submitted; and (4) the agent explains the terms and conditions of the employment and provides any required documentation.
- Petitions must be accompanied by written contracts or summaries of oral contracts; affidavits, awards, or similar documentation regarding achievements; and expert opinions. Specifically, supporting documents must show that (1) the group is internationally recognized for a sustained and substantial period of time; and (2) 75% of the members of the group have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for one year. The petition must include evidence that the group has been performing for at least one year; a list of the members and dates employed; and evidence that the group has been nominated or has received significant international awards or any 3 of the following documentation regarding international recognition: (1) star or lead in a performance with distinguished reputation; (2) reviews in major publications; (3) star or lead in performances for an organization with distinguished reputation; (4) major commercial or critically acclaimed successes; (5) testimonials regarding the group’s significant recognition; or (6) evidence that the group will command or has commanded a high salary.
- P-1B visa holders must maintain a foreign residence that they do not intend to abandon, although regulations permit dual intent.
P-1B Visa Application Process
The petition for P-1B visa status is submitted to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services within the one-year period prior to services in the United States. Multiple beneficiaries may be included on the petition, if they are members of a group seeking classification based on the group’s reputation or if they provide essential support.
Period of Stay for P-1B Visa Holders
P-1B entertainment group admission is granted for the time that is needed to complete the event, competition, or performance, but may not exceed one year, with extensions being granted in one-year increments. For extension of stay petitions for the same event or activity, no supporting documents and consultation are required, unless specifically requested by USCIS. Petitioner need only submit a statement or letter explaining the need for the extension. The foreign worker must be present in the United States at the time the extension of stay petition is filed. If the foreign worker is outside of the United States while the extension of stay petition is pending, the petitioner can request that USCIS send notification of the approval to a consular office abroad.
Family Members of P-1B Visa Holders
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of P-1B visa holders are eligible to apply for P-4 visa status and can accompany or follow to join the P-1B visa holder. P-4 visa holders are subject to the same time limits as the principal P-1B visa holder. P-4 visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States, but may attend school or college.
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