USA and the UK
What is the P-2 visa?
The P2 visa allows for artists or entertainers (as an individual or as part of a group) to enter the United States temporarily to perform for an American audience as part of a reciprocal cultural exchange program. This program must have a formal reciprocal exchange agreement that is made between an organization in the United States and an organization abroad.
The P2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows entertainers to enter the U.S. and perform for payment or prize money. P2 visa holders may engage in part-time study while in the United States and can even apply for additional visas for essential support personnel and/or immediate family members.
What are the requirements for the P-2 Visa?
To be eligible for a P-2 visa, an artist or group of entertainers must be entering the United States temporarily through a government-recognized reciprocal exchange program. Currently, there are five P-2 reciprocal agreements that have been negotiated between the following organizations and they are as follows:
- The American Federation of Musicians (U.S.) and the American Federation of Musicians (Canada)
- Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
- Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the British Actors’ Equity Association
- The International Council of Air Shows and the Canadian Air Show Association
- The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Screen Actor Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
Reciprocal agreements that are other than these five agreements will require review and approval from the USCIS who will determine if the agreement adheres to the regulatory standard.
Artists and entertainers who participate in a reciprocal exchange program must also possess comparable skills and talents to their counterpart artists and entertainers in the United States.
How do you apply for a P-2 Visa?
In order to acquire a P-2 Visa, artists and entertainers must first be sponsored by a U.S. employer or a sponsoring labor organization. Therefore, the first step in the visa application process will start with the employer or labor organization filing a Form I-129 (Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker). After the petition is filed, the application will then proceed as follows:
- Sponsor petitions the artist or entertainers by filing Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- The sponsor pays the application fee
- The sponsor submits supporting documentation for the P-2 visa application
- If the petition is approved, the process will then transfer to the National Visa Center who will ask the artist or entertainers to complete and submit Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa)
- Artist or entertainers pay the P-2 application fee
- Artist or entertainers schedule and attend a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- After the interview, the artist or entertainers will then receive a decision regarding their visa application
Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) is an online form for nonimmigrant visa applications that can be found on the U.S. Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center’s official website. All applicants need to complete and submit this form in order to obtain a non-immigrant visa. Form DS-160 will request personal information such as the applicant’s background and reasons for entering the United States. Once completed, the applicant will be shown a confirmation page along with a confirmation number. It is very important that the applicant prints this confirmation page out and save it for later as it will need to be submitted with other supporting documentation later in the visa application process.
As always, make sure that you submit personal and sensitive information on secure websites that belong to an official government organization (for example, .gov websites that use an https:// which means that you are safely connected).
What are the documents needed for the P-2 visa petition?
In addition to the Form I-129 petition, sponsors of artists and entertainers will need to submit additional supporting documentation to support the P-2 visa application. These documents may include the following:
- A written consultation by an appropriate labor organization (if a labor organization exists)
- A copy of the formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the sponsoring U.S. organization(s) and the organization(s) abroad which will receive the artist or entertainers
- A statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange of the artists or entertainers (as it relates to the specific petition for which classification is sought)
- Evidence that both U.S. and foreign artists and entertainers are subject to the reciprocal exchange agreement and possess the talent and skills comparable to each other and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar
- Evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the United States was involved in negotiating, or is in agreement with, the reciprocal exchange of U.S. and foreign artists or entertainers
- An itinerary of events or performances including dates and locations (if the events or performances take place in multiple areas like on a tour)
Essential Support Personnel
P-2 visa holders can sponsor essential support personnel to join them in the United States. In order to do this, essential support personnel must be able to prove that they are an integral part of the performance of the artist or entertainer and whose duties can not be performed by a U.S. worker. For support staff to obtain P2 classification, the petitioner must file a separate Form I-129 for the essential personnel. In addition to the I-129 petition, the sponsor will also need to include the following:
- A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization
- A written statement describing the essential support person’s prior and current essential duties, critical skills, and experience with the artist or entertainer
- A copy of the written contract between the employer and the essential support personnel (or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the support personnel will be employed)
Examples of essential support staff may include stagehands, trainers, or other individuals who possess the critical knowledge of the specific services which need to be performed
What is the cost of a P-2 visa?
The following is a list of costs associated with applying for a P-2 visa:
- Form I-129 filing fee: $460
- DS-160 Application form fee: $190
- Visa Issuance fee: costs will vary depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa was issued
- Premium processing time fee (if needed): $2,500
It should be noted that additional costs will be incurred if the principal P2 visa holder would like to sponsor essential support personnel for visas.
What is the processing time for the P-2 visa?
P-2 visas are usually processed in 60 days are more. This includes the time it takes for the USCIS to process Form I-129 (which is usually between 2-8 weeks). After the petition is approved, the artist or entertainer will then need to submit the DS-160 Form and attend their visa interview soon after. Overall, the time it takes to process a visa will depend on the workload and backlog of both the USCIS and the nearest Embassy or Consulate in the foreign country that processes the application.
Performers who need a visa quickly can pay for premium processing by filing Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) and paying the $2,500 fee. Applicants who choose Premium Processing will receive a decision on their visa within 15 working days.
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The P2 visa will be issued for the amount of time is needed in order to complete the event, competition, or performance. This amount of time is not to exceed one year. If more time is needed to complete an event or performance, the visa can be extended in increments of up to one year.
Spouses and dependent children (unmarried children under the age of 21) are eligible to join the P2 visa holder in the United States by applying for a P-4 visa. Under P-4 visa status, spouses and children may attend school or college but are not allowed to work legally in the United States.
P2 visa holders may be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status and gain permanent residency (aka, a green card) in the United States. However, only P2 visa holders are eligible to apply for green card status, essential support personnel are not. For more information on how to apply for a green card as a P-2 visa holder, consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process.