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Cultural Unique Artists or Entertainers Qualify for a Special P-3 Visa

By Patricia Elizee, Esq.

If you're coming to perform, teach, or coach as an artist or entertainer, either alone or as part of a group, you'll be classified as P-3. The regulations define "culturally unique" as a style of artistic expression that is unique to a country, religion, ethnicity, or group and is expressed through artistic performance, folk, musical, or theatrical.

In other words, if you perform, teach, or coach in an art that is culturally unique to a country or to a group of people, you can apply for a P-3 visa. For example, if you are a Haitian solo artist or if you are part of a band, and you perform Konpa or Compas (a type of music that is specific to Haiti and to Haitian culture) you may qualify for the P-3 Visa. As the artist, you may not petition for yourself, you will need a U.S based person or company to file the immigration petition for you.

The petitioner must file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129). According to the Form I-129 filing guidelines, the petition must be properly filed with the essential fee. Unless an agent files the petition and certain requirements are completed, each employer must file a separate petition if the beneficiary will work for more than one employer during the same time.

Petitions should be first submitted to a U.S. labor organization to obtain a written advisory opinion prior to filing the petition with USCIS. To support the application, you must submit the following evidence:

  • Affidavits, mails, or testimonials from recognized experts certifying to the legitimacy of the alien's or group's talents in performing, displaying, mentoring, or educating the unique or traditional art form (the experts' credentials must be stated, including the basis of his or her knowledge of the alien's or group's abilities

  • Proof that the performances or presentations will be culturally distinct.

  • Documentation that the alien/performance group's is culturally distinct, such as newspapers, articles, or other published materials

  • A written consultation from a labor organization that is suitable.

The P-3 visa petitioning fee is currently $460. If you decide to choose premium processing it will cost an additional $2,500. With premium processing, the USCIS will either refuse, approve, or request for additional evidence within 15 calendar days. The fees are paid directly to USCIS.

Once USCIS approves the Petition, as the artist or entertainer, you may request an appointment at the U.S embassy or consulate abroad to have a visa stamp issued. It is important to note that you are not guaranteed a visa even if the Petition is approved. The immigration officer at the consulate as the ultimate discretion to issue or approve the visa. Some of the perks when receiving the P-3 visa is that you will get to travel within and out of the United States as long as the visa is valid and not expired.

You may be awarded the P-3 visa for up to one calendar year. A petitioner may file a Form I-129 to request an extension of stay for a P nonimmigrant.

Another advantage of the P-3 visa is that you spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be granted the P-4 visa. Family members can obtain or renew P-4 status in one of two ways: either by filing for P-4 visas outside the United States and then applying for P-4 admission at a U.S. port of entry, or by submitting an I-539 application to USCIS while still in the United States. P-4 visa holder are not allowed to work but they may attend school or college.

The P-3 visa classification is limited only for the band members or performers. A separate petition may be filed for an “essential support staff,” defined as highly skilled essential persons who are integral to a performance as they perform essential support services which could not be readily performed by a U.S worker. If approved, the essential support staff will be awarded the P-3S visa.

Artists and Entertainers are not limited to the P-3 visa category. You may also apply for other visas to come and perform in the United States.

Patricia Elizee is the managing partner at the Elizee Law Firm. The law firm focuses on immigration and Family Law cases. Ms. Elizee can be reached at Ph-305-371-8846


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