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What is the P-2 Reciprocal Exchange Program?

By Patricia Elizee, Esq.,



P2 immigration visa Reciprocal Exchange Program
P2 visa

If you are an artist outside the US with ambitions to perform in the US, you must have heard of the P-2 Reciprocal Exchange Program. Nonetheless, you could be in the dark regarding how this program works. Worry no more as we're going to explicitly explain all there is to know about the P2 Visa.


What Is This Program?

The P-2 Visa program enables personnel in the entertainment industry to enter and perform in the US under the terms of a reciprocal cultural exchange program. The artists can be either individuals or in a group.


Noteworthy is that this is a temporary Visa limited to the duration that the artist is to perform. Also, a reciprocal exchange agreement must exist between a US body and another one based abroad. Therefore, with the P2 Visa, an artist or a group of artists can perform for prize money or pay. Also, the Visa allows the artist to enroll in part-time study while in the US. In addition, the visa holder is eligible for applying for additional visas to facilitate support for the individual or close family members.

What Are the Requirements for the P-2 Visa?

Primarily, an artist or group becomes eligible to enter the US temporarily and perform if there is a government-recognized reciprocal exchange program. This should be between a US organization and a similar foreign organization.


At present, the following 5 are the P-2 reciprocal agreements that are already in place:

● Actor's Equity Association (US) and its Canadian counterpart.

● The American Federation of Musicians (US) and the Canadian counterpart.

● Actor's Equity Association (US) and the British counterpart.

● The International Council of Air Shows and its Canadian counterpart.

● The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and its Canadian counterpart.

If an artist belongs to a different organization from the above-listed ones, they must consult with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to verify eligibility. The body will check whether the reciprocal program in the foreign country meets the essential requirements.

Additionally, the artists in the exchange program must possess a skill set that matches that of their US counterparts.


P2 Visa Application Process

First, to obtain the Visa, the artist or entertainer needs to be sponsored by either of the following:

● A sponsoring US labor body.

● A US-based employer.


Thus, either of the above two should first file a Form I-129 (Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker). Next, the following processes follow:

  1. The sponsoring individual or body will pay the application fees.

  2. Next, the sponsor should forward the supporting documents for the applicant to the USCIS.

  3. If the petition application succeeds, the National Visa Center will undertake the other proceedings.

  4. The National Visa Center will then ask the applicant to fill out and submit the DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa) form.

  5. Next, the applicant will pay the P-2 application fee.

  6. Once paid, the applicant will be required to attend an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate.

  7. Lastly, the applicant is informed if their application has been successful or not.


Once the petition is approved, it's imperative that the applicant immediately submits the DS-160 Form. After this, the applicant will be asked to attend the visa interview. Note the overall processing time could be a few weeks to two months depending on the USCIS or the involved embassy's workload.


Nonetheless, there is an exception for those who would want their applications processed at a faster rate. For this, the applicant will be required to pay a premium processing fee of $2,500. They will also need to fill the Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service). Ideally, under Premium Processing, the entire process can take a maximum of 15 days to be completed.

For How Long Can You Get It?

Once your application is successful, you can stay in the US for a maximum of 1 year while on the Visa. You may find that you want to stay in the country for longer than this duration. In that case, you can apply for an extension of the period. Note that it will be granted in increments of 1 year. This will enable the applicant to complete the performance that prompted them to apply for the Visa.


If you're looking for an immigration lawyer to assist you to obtain the P2 Visa, look no further than Elizee Law Firm. Our immigration staff are highly experienced in this field and will take you through the entire process.


Patricia Elizee is an immigration and family attorney. She is the managing partner of the Elizee Law Firm. 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. Phone: 305-371-8846.