How to Obtain and Qualify for a P-2 Artist or Entertainer Visa

Qualifying and obtaining a P-2 Visa is a complex and fact specific process and the information below is a general overview. Please consult with an attorney at Theta Law Firm with your specific facts. An attorney is vital to help guide a potentially qualifying individual or group and their dependents through the process of obtaining a P-2 Visa in a timely fashion that will not disrupt or interfere with an event or your business.

Is the P-2 Visa for me?

The P-2 classification allows an individual having residence in a foreign country to come to the United States temporarily to perform services under a reciprocal exchange program. A P-2 classification encompasses the following[1]:

  • A person coming to the United States to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, or to perform as an integral part of the performance of such a group, and who seeks to perform under a reciprocal exchange program which is between an organization in the United States and an organization in a foreign state, and which provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers, or groups of artists and entertainers.
Requirements for P-2 Visa Filing

In order to obtain P-2 classification for an artist or entertainer or entertainment group in a reciprocal exchange program, the United States labor organization that negotiated the reciprocal exchange agreement shall file a petition on behalf of the artist, entertainer, or entertainment group. Certain requirements must be met and evidence presented when filing the required I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.

Additionally, the exchange of artists or entertainers means that each side is getting similar performers in terms of caliber, terms and conditions of employment, and numbers of artists or entertainers involved in the exchange.

Note that if the person attempting to obtain P-2 classification will work for more than one employer at the same time, each employer must file a separate petition. The I-129 Petition MUST be submitted with all other below listed documentation in order to apply for P-2 classification.[2]

The following documentation is necessary[3]:

    1. Copies of any written contracts, or if only an oral agreement exists, the terms of such an agreement;
    2. An explanation of the events or activities to be performed, including the dates of the events or activities, the locations, and a copy of any itinerary if one exists;
    3. Evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the United States was involved in negotiating (or agrees with) the reciprocal exchange;
    4. Written consultation with a labor organization. One would be advised to provide the labor organization with a copy of the Visa petition before filing in order to expedite the process and to make sure that the paperwork will be able to be provided by the labor organization;
    5. A copy of the reciprocal exchange agreement between the United States organization which will receive the foreign artist, entertainer, or group and a foreign organization which will receive the United States artist, entertainer, or group;
    6. A statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange as it relates to the specific P-2 petition (which United States artists or entertainers are being exchanged for the particular foreign artists and entertainers seeking admission); and
    7. Evidence that the foreign artists, entertainers, or groups who are seeking P-2 status have similar conditions of employment and are of equivalent skill to the United States artists, entertainers, or groups who are part of the reciprocal exchange agreement.
Remember that no matter where you are in the Visa filing or interview process, an attorney at Theta Law Firm can help you prepare for, and successfully obtain a P-2 Visa.

Change of Employment

If while already in the United States a P-2 Visa holder wants to change employers or sponsors, the new employer or sponsor must file a new petition application and request to extend the petitioners stay. The petitioner cannot work or perform while this new petition is pending.

Length of Stay

An artist, entertainer, or group that qualifies under the P-2 Visa exchange provisions is allowed an initial stay of up to one year to complete the event or performance. An extension may be granted to complete an event or performance. These extensions are granted in one year increments.

Family of P-2 Qualifying Applicants

A spouse and any children under the age of 21 may accompany a P-2 Visa applicant so long as they obtain P-4 visa status. However, neither the spouse nor the child can work while accompanying a P-2 Visa applicant. Even so, any dependants can attend school or college.

Essential Support Alien[4]

There is an additional provision in the P-2 Visa statute, granting P-2 Visa status to personnel that are highly skilled, essential persons that carry out services not easily performed by a United States worker. To be considered an essential support alien, the person must have a significant support relationship to the P-2 artist, entertainer, or entertainment group.

A separate I-129 form must be filed by an employer or sponsor on behalf of such support personnel. The following must be included as evidence accompanying the form:

    1. Consultation from a labor organization with expertise in the support personnel's skill area;
    2. A statement describing the support personnel's essentiality, skills, and experience with the P-2 Visa artist, entertainer, or entertainment group;
    3. A copy of any written contract or summary of the terms of any oral agreement between the essential support personnel and the employer.
An essential support alien that qualifies under these provisions is allowed an initial stay of up to one year. An extension may be granted to continue to complete a particular event, competition, or performance in increments of one year.

If you do not specifically fit into the P-2 category, feel free to contact Theta Law Firm in order to determine if another visa may be right for you.

[1] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p).
[2] Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker may be found at:
[3] Requirements are set out in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p). Documentation shall be presented in contract, affidavit, or similar form.
[4] Requirements are set out in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p).

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