Artists frequently travel to the U.S. on a temporary basis to either perform in a foreign production or work in a creative role on an O-1 or O-2 Visa, to study in a movie or production school on an F-1 Visa or work as part of a culturally unique program on a P-3 Visa. The P-3 artist visa is a unique category of artist visa which is reserved for artists or entertainers who are traveling to be a part of a culturally unique program. A culturally unique program is designed for P-3 applicants who are visiting the U.S. temporarily to perform, teach or coach as artists, entertainers or individually to be a part of a group.

P-3 Visa eligibility

To be eligible for a P-3 visa, the artists or performer should be visiting the U.S. either as part of a theatrical production or as an individual artist with the purpose of developing, interpreting or coaching a unique ethnic, folk, cultural,  musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. The artist should be visiting the U.S to participate in the cultural event with the purpose of improving the understanding and studying their art better. The cultural event or program could be of a commercial or non-commercial nature.

Difference between O-1 Visa and P-3 Visa

O-2 Visa is issued to foreign nationals who accompany O-1 Visa holders in the fields of arts, athletics, television and motion picture industry. They could be accompanying the O-1 visa holder to perform at a specific event, show or performance.

On the other hand P-3 visa is a broad category which is reserved for both artists and performers and the essential support personnel who travel to the U.S. to perform in an event, performance or activity which is culturally unique. The essential support personnel are those individuals who travel to the U.S. in support of the P-3 visa artist’s performance. They are an integral part of the P-3 Visa artist’s performance and cannot be replaced by a U.S. personnel.

P-3 Visa eligibility

P-3 Artist visa application process

Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker which represents Form I-129 should be submitted by the U.S employer or the organization sponsoring the artists travel and stay.

The sponsors and agents who act as the artist visa petitioners for both O and P visa applicants and multiple employers should be able to establish their position as authorized agents. Some of the requirements to qualify as a legitimate petitioner for O and P visa can be found here “Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for the O and P Visa Classifications”.

The petitioner should be able to produce the following list of supporting documents with form I-129:

  • Labor organization should provide a written consultation
  • The contract summary between the petitioner and the beneficiary or the copy of the agreement
  • Documents in the form of affidavits and testimonials from professionals in teaching, performing, presenting and coaching of the unique and traditional art forms, proving the authenticity of the petitioner’s groups’ in their field of art. The documents should also have testimonials of the expert about the petitioner’s groups’ abilities in the art forms based on their knowledge.
  • Documents that can prove that the petitioner’s group has a culturally unique performance based on publications, newspapers or journals.
  • The events and performances that the artists will be participating in, should be regarded as culturally unique.
  • In the event of multiple events or performances taking place in multiple locations, the petitioner should submit an itinerary with dates and locations

USCIS issues a P-3 visa for a period of 1 year to perform in the event or finish the performance. In case, the petitioner needs an extension of stay to finish the event or complete the event performance dates, USCIS grants an increment of up to 1 year and Form I-129 is submitted for change of visa status.

The family of P-3 Visa holders which includes spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are categorized under P-4 Visa. The P-3 Visa holder’s family members cannot be engaged in employment in the U.S but they can enroll in school or college.