P-3 visa – Classification for Culturally Unique Performers and Support Personnel

P-3 VisaFor those coming to the United States temporarily as part of a performance schedule, or to teach or coach artists or performers, the P-3 visa may provide protection under the nonimmigrant worker classification. To be eligible, one must be coming to the US either individually or as a group for the purpose of “developing, interpreting, representing, coaching or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation.” In addition, the work must be part of an event that furthers the development or understanding of the art form you are representing.

In order to apply, the petitioner must complete Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker. Anyone applying as an agent for multiple employers must prove that he or she is duly authorized to act as an agent. The form should also be submitted with the following documentation:

  • Evidence that all performances or programs will be culturally unique.
  • Letters, testimonials or affidavits from recognized experts, supporting the authenticity of your (or your group’s) skills in performing, coaching, teaching or presenting the unique and traditional art forms, in addition to the credentials of the expert, which should include information regarding his or her knowledge of your (or your group’s) skillset. Alternatively, reviews published in newspapers, journals or other publishing outlets can document that you or your group’s performance is culturally unique.
  • An explanation of the event where the performance will occur, and an itinerary including dates and locations of all relevant events.
  • Copy of a written consultation from a suitable labor organization.
  • Copy of the petitioner and beneficiary contract, or a summary of an oral agreement reached between the two.

In addition to performers, this status may also apply to those essential support personnel who are an important part of the performance, if their services cannot be readily performed by a worker already residing in the United States. These personnel may include trainers, referees, coaches, scouts or other team officials. Support personnel must have a separate Form I-129 completed by the U.S. employer, and the petition must include the following:

  • Statement describing the support personnel’s experience with the performer, including the supporter’s prior and current essential and critical skillsets.
  • Copy of a written consultation from a suitable labor organization.
  • A copy of the employer and supporter’s contract, or a summary of an oral agreement reached between the two.

The Form I-129 is also used for changes such as extensions of stay, change of employment or change of status. The initial period granted is typically the time needed to complete the performance or activity, not to exceed one year. Extensions are granted in increments of one year.

Petitioners may change employers, but only after the new employer has filed a new Form I-129 and received approval. Dependents (or unmarried children under 21) and spouses may obtain P-4 status, although dependents are not able to engage employment. They may attend school, or even college, under the P-4 status.

Should you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact me by submitting the form or by calling me at (917) 426-8227 or (248) 630-3239.  I accept clients from across the U.S. and around the world.  My law offices are conveniently located in Troy, Michigan and in Lower Manhattan, New York for in-person meetings.  For phone consultation, you can reach me from any part of the United States or abroad.