The U.S.-Indian Cultural Association (USICA) is engaged in promoting Indian Arts in the U.S. The Association was very excited when Sunitha Kumari, a renowned exponent of Bharatanatyam, a South Indian classical dance form, agreed to their proposal to perform in in the U.S. Sunitha Kumari would be performing in cities throughout the U.S. The tour would last for 2 months. Additionally, Ms. Kumari would be conducting a 10-day training session for Bharatanatyam students during the period of her stay in the U.S. When the organizers tried to find a suitable visa option that would allow her to visit the U.S. temporarily for the above purpose, they came across numerous visa options which all appeared similar. Through speaking with several experts, they surmised that the P-3 visa might be the best option for her. They were not clear, however, on the P-3 visa requirements and with the some of the legal terminology. So, what is a P-3 visa? What are the P-3 visa requirements? How does one apply for a P-3 visa? And will Ms. Kumari qualify for a P-3 visa? They set out to find the answers.
The P-3 visa classification is available to foreign national artists and entertainers who are coming temporarily to the United States to perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique. The program may be of a commercial or noncommercial nature and the foreign national artists or entertainers could be performing either individually or as part of a group. Along with the principal foreign national artists or entertainers who qualify for a P3 visa, Essential Support Personnel, who are an integral part of the performance of such principal artists or entertainers, and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker are also eligible to seek a P-3 visa.
For the benefit of foreign national artists and entertainers who would like to come to the U.S. temporarily to participate in a culturally unique program, or U.S. individuals or groups who would like to bring such foreign national artists and entertainers performing a culturally unique art form, we present an introduction to the P3 visa and an overview of the P3 visa requirements, P3 visa process, along with a few important concepts related to the P-3 U.S. visa for artists, entertainers and essential support personnel.
The P-3 Visa Requirements
For Artists and Entertainers
The key P-3 visa requirements that the foreign national artist or entertainer must satisfy are:
- He or she must be coming to the United States for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation;
- He or she must be coming to the United States to participate in a cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of his or her art form;
- He or she must have a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning.
Note: Regulations define ‘Culturally Unique’ to mean a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium which is unique to a particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group of persons. Recently, the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) has issued a binding precedent decision addressing the term “culturally unique”, clarifying that the culturally unique style of art or entertainment is NOT limited to traditional art forms, but may include artistic expressions that are deemed to be a hybrid or fusion of more than one culture or region. Irish Dance, Kenyan Drums, Indian classical dance etc., are a few common examples of ‘Culturally Unique’ art forms.
For Essential Support Personnel
The key P-3 visa requirements that the foreign national, who is a part of the Essential Support Personnel of the primary P-3 entertainer or artist, must satisfy are:
- He or she must perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of services by the P-3 artist or entertainer;
- He or she must have appropriate qualifications to perform the services, critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed, and experience in providing such support to the P-3 artist or entertainer;
- He or she must have a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning.
Q: The “Dublin Performers” is a group that performs traditional Irish Dance and is entirely made up of American dancers of Irish descent. During one of their shows outside the U.S. they came across Peter Nevin, an Irish Dance coordinator and event manager. Impressed with his skills, they wanted to work with him on a few shows in the U.S. They want to know if they can bring Peter to the U.S. on a P3 visa as an Essential Support Personnel.
A: To be eligible to seek a P3 visa for essential support personnel, the foreign national must perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of services by a P3 artist or entertainer, and he must have had experience in providing such support to the P3 artist or entertainer. In this case, as the “Dublin Performers” are American, there are no principal P3 entertainers or artists. As such Peter would not qualify for a P3 Essential Support Personnel visa.
The P-3 Visa Process
To begin the P-3 visa process, the U.S. Sponsoring entity that intends to bring the artist or entertainer into the U.S. must first submit Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker, to USCIS. The P-3 petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the artist or entertainer’s services in the U.S.
Note: Essential support personnel cannot be included on the P-3 petition filed for a principal artist or entertainer. A separate petition needs to be filed for such qualified essential support personnel seeking a P-3 visa classification. However, more than one beneficiary may be included in a P3 petition if they are members of a group seeking classification based on the reputation of the group as an entity, or if they will provide essential support to P-3 artists or entertainers performing in the same location and in the same occupation.
A petition for P-3 visa classification for a foreign national artist or entertainer, submitted to the USCIS as above, must be accompanied by the following documents, among others:
- Documentation that the performance of the artist or entertainer or the group is culturally unique;
- Evidence that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events;
- Copies of written contracts between the petitioner and the foreign national artist or entertainer or if there is no written contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which he or she will be employed;
- An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities;
- A written consultation from a labor organization.
Note: Consultation with an appropriate labor organization regarding the nature of the work to be done and the foreign national artist or entertainer’s qualifications is mandatory before a P-3 petition can be approved. The consultation or “advisory opinion” must be in writing, signed by an authorized official of the organization, and must generally be submitted to the USCIS along with the petition when the petition is filed. Alternatively, a labor organization may also submit a letter of no objection if it has no objection to the approval of the petition. In cases where the petitioner can establish that an appropriate labor organization does not exist, USCIS may decide the application on the basis of the evidence on record.
A petition for P-3 visa classification as an Essential Support Personnel must be accompanied by the following documents, among other:
- A statement describing the foreign national’s prior essentiality, critical skills and experience with the principal P-3 entertainer or artist or group;
- A copy of the written contract or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement between the foreign national and the employer; and,
- A consultation from a labor organization with expertise in the area of the foreign national’s skill.
Admission into the U.S. on a P-3 Visa
If the P-3 visa petition is approved and the foreign national artist or entertainer or essential support personnel is in the U.S. in another visa status (B-2, for example), then he or she may be able to remain in the U.S. and commence performing on the P-3 visa. If the foreign national artist or entertainer or essential support personnel is outside the U.S., he or she must apply for, and obtain a P-3 visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the U.S. before he or she can travel to the U.S. and seek admission under the P-3 visa classification.
Under the P-3 visa classification, foreign national artists, entertainers, essential support personnel are initially admitted for a period of time that is determined to be necessary to complete the event, activity, or performance for which the P-3 artist or entertainer is coming to the U.S., Such period, however, shall not exceed one year.
P-4 Visa for the family members of P-3 Visa Holders
The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a P-3 artist, entertainer or essential support personnel are entitled to seek P-4 visa classification. If they are accompanying or following to join the P-3 foreign national in the U.S., they will be subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the P-3 foreign national. However, neither the spouse nor a child may accept employment while in the U.S. on a P-4 visa, but they may attend school or college.
After Admission into the U.S.
Change of Employers
While in the U.S., a foreign national artist or entertainer is allowed to work only for the entity that sponsored his or her P-3 visa petition. If, however, a P-3 artist or entertainer in the U.S. wishes to change the sponsoring entity, the new sponsor must file both a new petition with a request to extend the foreign national’s stay in the U.S. The artist or entertainer cannot commence employment with the new employer or sponsor until the petition and request for extension have been approved.
Extension of Stay
An extension of stay may be sought on behalf of P-3 artists, entertainers and essential support personnel in the U.S., to enable them continue or complete the same event or activity for which they were admitted into the U.S. Extensions of stay may be authorized in increments of up to 1 year to enable them continue or complete the same event, activity or performance. There is no limit as to the number of extensions that may be requested.
The doctrine of “dual intent” appears to be informally recognized and allowed for those with P-3 visa classification for artists and entertainers, but not essential support personnel. The approval of a permanent labor certification or the filing of an immigrant visa petition is generally not a basis for denying a P-3 petition for an artist or entertainer, a request to extend such a petition, or his or her admission or change of status. Regulations permit foreign national artists or entertainers to legitimately come to the U.S. for a temporary period on a P-3 visa classification and depart voluntarily at the end of his or her authorized stay and, at the same time, lawfully seek to become a permanent resident of the United States. It is important to note that this does not apply to P-3 essential support personnel.
Termination of Services
If the employment of the P-3 artist or entertainer or essential support personnel is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, then the employer and the U.S. Petitioner are liable to pay to such P-3 foreign national the reasonable cost of return transportation to his or her residence abroad.
As seen in the foregoing, the P3 visa classification is available to foreign national artists or entertainers who are coming temporarily to the United States to perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique; it is also available to essential support personnel who are an integral part of the performance of such principal artists or entertainers and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker. The P3 visa offers various advantages and benefits to foreign national artists and entertainers who perform a culturally unique art form and would like to come to the U.S. However, the P-3 visa classification is not available to all artists and entertainers. It is, instead, restricted to only those artists and entertainers who perform a culturally unique art form.
The spouse and unmarried minor children can stay in the U.S. in P-4 status with the P-3 foreign national as long as he or she maintains his P-3 status. Those on P-4 visa classification cannot engage in any employment. Further, foreign nationals in P-3 status can engage in part time study and those in P-4 status can study full-time.
There are no travel restrictions for those on the P-3 visa. P-3 artists, entertainers and essential support personnel and their families can freely travel in and out of the U.S. as long as their visa stamp and status are valid.
After consulting with immigration experts, USICA organizers ascertained that Ms. Kumari’s proposed tour and workshops satisfied all the requirements for a P-3 visa - they were intending to bring a renowned exponent of a culturally unique art form- Ms. Kumari- to the U.S. for a temporary period, to perform a series of events featuring a culturally unique art form- Bharatanatyam. Ms. Kumari would only be performing in series of Bharatanatyam concerts and training Bharatanatyam students. Hence, all the key eligibility conditions required for seeking a P-3 visa appeared to be satisfied. With their doubts cleared, they started to gather the required documentation to file the P-3 petition on behalf of Ms. Kumari.
Contact VisaPro if you have any questions regarding the P-3 US visa for artists and entertainers performing a culturally unique art form, or any other type of visas for artists and entertainers. Our experienced attorneys will be happy to assist you.
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