P1 Visa For Foreign Entertainment Groups

An Overview


The United States has always welcomed artists and entertainers from all over the world to come and perform. Entire industries in the U.S. were created and built around the promotion and showcasing of artistic talent both for its entertainment value and the promotion of cultural advancement.

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Here we present an overview of a popular visa option for entertainers – the P1 Visa. This article presents an overview of the P1 visa requirements for internationally recognized entertainment groups, the P1 visa process, and important features of the P1 visa for the support personnel.

P1 Visa For Entertainment Groups

A. P1 Visa USA: Who Qualifies?

The P1 visa category applies to foreign nationals coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time.

In order to qualify:

  1. The entertainers must be performing as part of a group. Individual entertainers are not eligible for the P1B classification. This is unlike internationally recognized athletes who are eligible to seek a P1A visa either individually or as a team.
  2. The entertainment group must be internationally recognized. It must have a high level of achievement in a field as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition that is substantially above what is ordinarily encountered. Such achievement must be renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country.
    Note: USCIS may waive the “international recognition” if the group can establish that they have been nationally recognized for a sustained period of time.
  3. The entertainment group must have been established and regularly performing for at least one year, and 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.
  4. Foreign national circus performers are exempt from both the one year requirement and the “international recognition” requirement. The circus performers, however, need to be coming to the U.S. to perform with a “nationally recognized” circus.

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B. US P1 Visa Process For Entertainment Groups

To begin the P1 visa process for entertainment groups, the U.S. Sponsoring entity that intends to bring the entertainment group and its members into the U.S. must first submit Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker to USCIS. The I-129 petition must include the name of the group, and may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the entertainment group’s services in the U.S.

NOTE 1: A P1 petition can only be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. sponsoring organization, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.

NOTE 2: Essential support personnel cannot be included on the P1 petition filed for principal entertainers and members of an entertainment group. A separate petition needs to be filed for such qualified essential support personnel seeking a P1 Essential Support Personnel visa classification.

A petition for P1B visa classification for members of an entertainment group, submitted to the USCIS, must be accompanied by the following evidence:

1.The group has been performing together regularly for at least one year

2.The Petitioner’s statement listing all the members of the group as well as their dates with the group

3.A copy of the contract(s) between the U.S. Petitioner and the Entertainment Group. If there’s no contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement must be submitted

4.An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of itinerary for the events or activities

5.Evidence that the group has been nominated for or has received significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in their field OR Documentation of at least three of the following:

a.Evidence that the group has performed, and will perform, as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation

b.Evidence that the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field

c.Evidence that the group has performed, and will perform, services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

d.Evidence that the group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes and other achievements in the field

e.Evidence that the group has achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field, or

f.Evidence that the group has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field

6.A written consultation from a labor organization.

NOTE: The written consultation from an appropriate labor organization, that has expertise in the specific entertainment field, regarding the nature of the work to be done and the group/foreign national entertainer’s qualifications is mandatory before a P1 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.

C. Admission Into The U.S. On A P1 Entertainment Visa

Once the P1 petition is approved by USCIS, the members of the entertainment group may apply for the P1 visa at an appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Under the P1 visa, entertainers and members of the internationally recognized entertainment group are initially admitted for a period of time that is determined to be necessary to complete the event, activity, or performance for which the entertainment group is coming to the U.S. Such period, however, shall not exceed one year. The same applies to essential support personnel.

D. P4 Visa For The Family Members Of P1 Visa Holders

The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a P1 entertainer or essential support personnel are entitled to seek P4 visa classification. If they are accompanying or following to join the P1 foreign national in the U.S., they will be subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the P1 entertainer. Individuals in P4 status shall not accept employment, but my attend school or college.

E. After Admission Into The U.S.

Change of Employers

While in the U.S., the entertainment group is allowed to work only for the entity that sponsored P visa petition. However, if a P1 entertainment group in the U.S. wishes to change the sponsoring entity, the new sponsor must file a separate petition, and, if necessary, request to extend the group’s stay in the U.S. The entertainment group cannot commence employment with the new employer or sponsor until the petition has been approved.

Extension of Stay

An extension of stay may be sought on behalf of P1 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 are approved with up to one year increments to enable them to continue or complete the same event, activity or performance. There is no limit as to the number of extensions that may be requested.

Dual Intent

The doctrine of “dual intent” appears to be informally recognized for those with P1 visa classification as entertainers and members of entertainment group. This does not apply to essential support personnel.

Generally, the approval of a permanent labor certification or the filing of an immigrant visa petition should not be a basis for denying a P1 petition, a request to extend the status or change the status. Regulations permit foreign national entertainers to legitimately come to the U.S. for a temporary period on a P1 entertainment visa USA 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 remember that this does not apply to P1 essential support personnel.


There are no travel restrictions for those on the P1 visa. P1 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.

Termination of Services

If the employment of the P1 entertainer or essential support personnel is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, then the employer and/or the U.S. Petitioner are liable to pay for the reasonable cost of return transportation to the beneficiary’s residence abroad.


Advantages Of P1 Visa
  • Qualifying criteria not as high as the O-1
  • Spouse and children can qualify for P4 dependent visa
Limitations Of P1 Visa
  • The admission period cannot be more than 1 year, as opposed to the O-1, where it can be 3 years
  • International recognition is a prerequisite
  • Prior approval of a petition by USCIS is necessary


The P1 visa classification is available for foreign national entertainers coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding for a sustained and substantial period of time. It is also available to essential support personnel who are an integral part of the performance of a P1 entertainment and who performs support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker.

P visa is restricted to members of entertainment group, meaning that individual entertainers not performing as part of a group are not eligible for the P1B visa classification.

If you have any questions regarding the P1 visa, or any other type of visa for artists and entertainers, our experienced immigration attorneys will be glad to assist you. Schedule A Free Immigration Lawyer Consultation Today to find out the most suitable artist visa for your situation.

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