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U.S. Visas For International Entertainers And Groups

Portions of the content on this page are available as public information on the USCIS website.

Criteria for Eligibility

The P-1B allows foreign nationals to come to the United States temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as being outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time.

Under 8 CFR 214.2(p), to qualify for the P-1B, at least 75 percent of the members of the group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year and must provide functions integral to the group’s performance.

The entertainment group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is essential.

An entertainment group may have as few as two (2) people, but individual entertainers who are not performing as part of a group are not eligible for the P-1B visa. If an individual entertainer is performing separately from the group, that entertainer may be eligible for the O-1 status on their own.

The application must include evidence that the group has been internationally recognized in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time as demonstrated by evidence of the group’s receipt of, or nomination for, significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in its field, or evidence of at least three of the following:

  • The group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements.
  • The group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material.
  • The group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.
  • The group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, standing int he field, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements in the field as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications.
  • The group has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field. Such testimonials must be in a form that clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements.
  • The group has commanded or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Certain nationally known entertainment groups may have the requirement for international recognition waived if they can establish that they have been recognized nationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial amount of time in consideration of special circumstances.

Circus Performers

Circus performers and essential circus personnel are exempt from the one year group membership requirement and the internationally recognized requirement, provided that they are coming to join a circus that has been recognized nationally as outstanding for a sustained and substantial period of time.

Application Process

The petitioning employer must file a petition for a nonimmigrant work visa with USCIS. The petition must include a detailed explanation of how the beneficiary meets the requirements.

If the P-1B petition is approved, USCIS will issue an I-797 Approval Notice. If the foreign national is inside the United States in another nonimmigrant status, they can file their P-1B petition as a change of status petition. This means that upon approval of the P-1B petition, the foreign national will automatically be in P-1B status.

Applying for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

If the foreign national is outside of the United States, they will need to apply for a P-1B visa in their passport before they can enter the United States to work in P-1B status. To apply for the P-1B visa, the foreign national will need to complete the U.S. Department of State’s online visa application—DS-160, pay the visa fee, and schedule the visa appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. If the visa appointment is successful, the foreign national will receive the P-1B visa in their passport. They will be able to enter the United States using the P-1B visa in their passport and the I-797 Notice of Approval from USCIS.

Validity Period

Initial: The P-1B status will be approved for the time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance, not to exceed one year.

Extension: The P-1B status can be extended in increments of up to one year in order to continue or complete the same event, competition, or performance for which the foreign national was admitted.

Change of Employer

P-1B visa holders may file an application to change employers, but they may not start employment with the new employer until the new application has been approved.

Family of Visa Holder

Dependents of P-1B visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) may apply for the P-4 visa. The P-4 visa status allows dependents of the P-1B visa to live in the United States and attend school, but not to work.

Essential Support Personnel

Essential Support Personnel who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1B entertainment group and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker are eligible for P-1S classification. Support personnel may include backup dancers and musicians, lighting technicians, sound engineers and stage personnel. A separate petition is required for any support personnel.

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