P-3 Visa For Culturally Unique Artists And Entertainers


P-3 nonimmigrant visas are available to artists, entertainers or performing groups who enter the United States solely to perform, teach or coach in culturally unique events.  The regulations define “culturally unique” as “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.”

Specifically, the regulations limit the P-3 visa category to artists and entertainers who are “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…”

Artists and entertainers are also required to demonstrate recognition of their achievements and international renown. Letters of support from former employers and experts in the relevant field, as well as press kits, awards, degrees, memberships and media reviews are vital to demonstrating cultural uniqueness and international recognition of an artist’s or entertainer’s achievements.

Further, a letter from the U.S. organization petitioning for the P-3 visa, as well as a contract and itinerary, are required to evidence that an artist or entertainer is coming to the United States for the appropriate culturally unique purposes. Finally, an advisory opinion from a U.S. labor organization in the field on the cultural uniqueness of the proposed performance or presentation is required prior to a decision on a P-3 petition.

Petitions on behalf of “essential support aliens,” defined as highly skilled essential persons who are integral to a performance as they perform essential support services which could not be readily performed by a U.S. worker, require a separate petition, supporting documentation, and advisory opinion from a U.S. labor organization. Beneficiaries of an approved petition are accorded P-3S visa status.

Notably, a P-3 nonimmigrant visa petition, unlike other work-related visa petitions, can be filed by either a U.S. employer, or a U.S. sponsoring organization such as an agent. Thus, P-3 beneficiaries can be categorized as employees or independent contractors. A sponsor, like an employer, assumes responsibility for the accuracy of the terms and conditions specified in the petition.

In the event that there are any material changes in the terms and conditions of employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility for the P-3 visa, an employer or sponsor must file an amended petition. However, an employer or sponsor may add additional similar or comparable performances, engagements, or competitions during the validity period of the original petition without filing an amended petition. If a beneficiary’s employment terminates for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer or sponsor is liable for the reasonable cost of the beneficiary’s return transportation.

Petitions should generally be submitted to a U.S. labor organization to obtain a written advisory opinion prior to filing with the petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).   On approval of a P-3 visa petition, a beneficiary can apply for a P-3 visa stamp at a U.S. consulate for entry into the United States in P-3 status.

Beneficiaries of P-3 visa petitions approved for a culturally unique performing group can apply for substitution of members by similarly qualified members at a U.S. consulate if necessary. Essential support personnel may not be substituted, however. As the P-3 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa, applicants for P-3 visa stamps must demonstrate nonimmigrant intent by documenting ties to their home country.

The longest possible period of validity possible under the P-3 category is one year, after which period applications for extension of stay can be filed to continue or complete the same event or activity. Notably, a spouse or child of a P-3 nonimmigrant may enter the United States in P-4 status but is not authorized to work.

In employment-based immigration cases, the attorney represents both the petitioning employer and the employeebeneficiary. In fact, in this type of case, immigration documents can only be submitted to the government by a petitioning employer on behalf of an employee-beneficiary.

Therefore, the attorney must be authorized by the employer to file papers on the employer’s behalf which, if approved, will enable the employee-beneficiary to receive a visa. Attorneys are permitted to represent two parties simultaneously, if so authorized, unless their interest conflicts. Representing two parties simultaneously in one matter also requires an attorney to disclose information and be equally loyal to both parties.

Under those rare occasions when a conflict of interest develops between a petitioning employer and the employee-beneficiary, the attorney cannot take sides regardless of which party pays the attorney fees, and, the attorney must withdraw from representing both parties unless one party consents to the attorney’s continued representation of the other party.

If you, or someone you know is interested in a P-3 Visa and wishes to reside in the San Francisco area, call Gordon Law Group PC at (415) 284-1601.