O & P VISA
ARTISTS, ENTERTAINERS, ATHLETES, AND PERSONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
Artists, entertainers, athletes, and certain extraordinary persons have the ability to temporarily enter the United States with an O or P nonimmigrant visa. The O visa category enables foreign nationals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement in certain fields, or those who have critical skills and experience with such an individual, to obtain a temporary working visa.
The P nonimmigrant visa is available to foreign entertainment groups, athletes, or entertainers who wish to enter the United States temporarily to perform under a reciprocal exchange program or a program that is culturally unique.
EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY OR ACHIEVEMENTS IN SCIENCE, ART, EDUCATION, BUSINESS OR ATHLETICS
An O visa category is for highly talented or acclaimed foreign nationals who may not qualify in other work-related nonimmigrant categories such as H, L, or J, or who wish to avoid those classifications for various reasons. Especially helpful to artists, athletes, entertainers, high-end chefs, and business people lacking professional degrees, the O classification can be a useful and flexible alternative to the H-1B program.
The O-Visa is available to:
- A foreign national who has demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (or extraordinary achievement in the fields of film or television), proven by sustained national or international acclaim or the receipt of internationally recognized awards;
- An individual who has the critical skills and experience necessary to assist in the artistic or athletic performance of an O visa holder for a specific event, and is an integral part of the actual performance; or
- A dependent spouse or child of an O visa holder. Dependents in this derivative visa category are not authorized to work while in the United States.
What ARE THE “ARTS”?
The law broadly defines the term “arts” to include any field or creative activity or endeavor, including (but not limited to) fine arts visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. Persons engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers, but other essential persons such as directors, set designers, lighting designers, choreographers, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, makeup artists, and animal trainers.
What is Extraordinary Ability?
In the field of arts, it means a high level of achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such a prominent foreign national is described as “renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.”
In the field of science, education, business, or athletics, it means a level of expertise sufficient to put the petitioner among, “the small percentage who have risen to the very top” of his or her field of endeavor.
With respect to motion picture and television productions, it is evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that the foreign national is recognized as “outstanding, notable, or leading in the motion picture or television field.”
Types of O-Visas
- O-1A – individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry).
- O-1B – individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.
- O-2 – individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. “For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an ‘integral part’ of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be ‘essential’ to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1.”
The following evidence is necessary to prove an individual is extraordinary in its field of endeavor:
- Original contributions of major significance.
- Nationally or internationally recognized awards.
- Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements of their members.
- Published material, relating to the applicant’s in the area of extraordinary ability, in professional or major trade publications or major media.
- Evidence that the applicant has judged the work of others in the field of endeavor.
- Evidence of the applicant’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field or serving a critical role for distinguished organizations.
- Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, abstract or presentations in professional journals, or other major media outlets.
- Evidence that the applicant has been employed in a critical position at an organization with a distinguished reputation.
- High salary in comparison to others in his field.
It is essential that the area of special expertise be clearly explained, defined and articulated for a lay person to understand. Additionally, it is critical to obtain a diversity of institutional letterheads to documents the candidate’s distinction (awards, most significant contributions, distinctions, media coverage, achievements, membership in distinguished society, judge or evaluation the work of others).
The O-1 visa is limited to a maximum duration of three years, renewable and extendable for one year at a time, as long as the employment continues and the presence of the professional is required. The individual must have an employer sponsor the petition for the O visa, and the employer may also in the future, sponsor the individual for permanent residency in the United States.
An O-1’s spouse and child are admitted as O-3, for the same length of stay and subject to the same limits as the principal O-1 Visa holder. A spouse of an O-1 employee is eligible for employment in the U.S. The child is barred from employment unless otherwise authorized.
P-VISA – Athlete/Entertainer Visa
The P nonimmigrant employment visa category is reserved for foreign professionals that are athletes, entertainers or cultural performers. The person must seek to enter temporarily for the purpose of performing in a competition, event or performance. There are three different visa classifications which include P1, P2, P3, and P4, and are discussed below:
- P-1 applies to individual or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group (P-1B) that are internationally recognized. A maximum of 25,000 P visas are issued annually.
- P-2 applies to artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program.
- P-3 applies to artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is culturally unique.
- P-4 is for the spouse or child of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien and who is accompanying, or following to join, the alien.
The validity of the P visa varies, and visa holders are admitted for the time necessary to complete their event, competition, or performance; the time may be extended. The visa may not exceed five years without an extension; the maximum time for extension is ten years for individual athletes.
Visa (Athletes or Entertainment Groups & Performers)
These visas are for athletes and group entertainers that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time. Athletes must be “internationally recognized” (PI-A) or alternatively the beneficiary must be a person who performs with or is an integral or essential part of the entertainment group that has been recognized as outstanding in their discipline for a sustained period of time (P-1B); in case of a performer, the person must have sustained and substantial relationship with the group for a period of at least one year.
General Employee Requirements & Issues
- Must be an athlete part of a team or an entertainment group (at least two individuals).
- Must be “internationally recognized”.
- Must have at least one year of recognition as outstanding in the particular discipline or field. (Requirements may be waived under certain conditions, like illness or exigent circumstances).
- Circus performers are exempt from international recognition and one-year requirement.
An individual athlete may obtain a P-1A for five years, renewable for an additional five years. A petition for a team or an entertainment group as a P-1 may not exceed one year and neither a P1-B visas. However, extensions may be filed for both visas.
P-1 Support Visa
- Support personnel of P visa holders can obtain a P visa if they are highly skilled essential support personnel and are an integral part of the successful performance of the P visa worker.
- Support personal must perform support services that are not readily performed by a U.S. worker and are essential for the success of the P-1 visa holder. Essential support may be coaches, scouts, trainers and other team officials.
- Support personnel must have the appropriate qualifications and critical knowledge to perform the services and they must have experience in providing support to the P visa worker.
P-2 Visa (Reciprocal Exchange Groups)
These visas are for people coming to perform as an artist or entertainer individually or as part of a group. The individual(s) must perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the U.S. and an organization in another country.
General Employee Requirements & Issues
- Must perform under a reciprocal exchange program.
- Must be sponsored by a U.S. employer or a U.S. labor organization that negotiated the agreement.
- The exchange must be between similar caliber performers employed under similar conditions.
The P-2 visa holders are admitted for the time necessary to complete their event, competition, or performance. The visa may not exceed one year, but may be extended.
P-3 Visa (Culturally Unique Programs
These visas are for artists or entertainers, individually or as a group, that are coming to the U.S. for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical or artistic performance or presentation. The person must be coming to the U.S. to participate in a commercial or noncommercial cultural event which will further understanding or development of his or her art form.
General Employee Requirements & Issues
- Must be for a cultural unique program.
- The event must further the understanding or development of the art form.
The P-3 visa holders are admitted for the time necessary to complete their event, competition, or performance. The visa may not exceed one year, but may be extended.
P-4 Visa (Family)
The spouse or child under 21 years old of a P visa principal are admitted as P-4, for the same length of stay and subject to the same limits as the principal P visa holder. Spouse nor the child are eligible for employment in the U.S. and must qualify for an employment visa on its own. However, they may go to school and live in the U.S.
Processing The P Visa
You may apply for a P visa six months prior to the event. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed before the person’s services are required or previous employment authorization ends.
Extension of Visa P Status
Extensions may be filed during the six-month period prior to expiration of the current stay. The person may not travel outside of the U.S. while an extension is pending.