A P-2 visa is a temporary employment visa specifically for artists and entertainers who are entering the U.S. temporarily, in order to participate in a cultural exchange program. This particular visa is reserved for those participating in programs organized between the government of the United States, and the government of the applicant’s native country.
It is helpful to discuss what temporary workers are, as well as what constitutes a temporary visa. U.S. immigration law allows for a set number of foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. each year for the purpose of temporary employment. Generally speaking, the temporary worker must have a U.S.-based employer sponsor them, and verify that they will be traveling to the country for employment purposes only.
Temporary visas are also referred to as nonimmigrant visas. An applicant for nonimmigrant status must demonstrate that they have no intention to stay or live permanently in the United States. The number of non-immigrant visas distributed each year may be subject to change, and can sometimes depend on the applicant’s country of origin. The exact number of visas allowed for certain countries may be more or less depending on the number of visas issued the previous year. In terms of a P-class visa, only a maximum of 25,000 are issued every year.
What Is the Difference Between a P-1 Visa and a P-2 Visa?
A P-1 visa is a temporary employment visa allowing foreign nationals, who are individual or team athletes or members of an entertainment group, to enter into the United States for a specific event or performance. Other P visas include:
- P-2 Visa: Artists and Entertainers performing under a cultural exchange program, as is being discussed;
- P-3 Visa: Artists and Entertainers performing under a culturally unique program; and
- P-4 Visa: For the spouse and dependent children of those who enter the U.S. on a P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa.
Any P-1 visa holder may accept payment for their performance. Additionally, they are allowed to compete for prize money in their athletic events. There are no travel restrictions for a P-1 visa. What this means is that the performer or athlete may travel anywhere in the U.S., and may leave and reenter so long as the visa remains valid. The visa can be extended by up to five years, for a total maximum duration of ten years.
An important difference between a P-1 visa and P-2 visa is that applicants for a P-2 visa do not need the level of accomplishment or fame required for a P-1 visa. Meaning, they do not need to be internationally recognized as P-1 visa holders do.
Additionally, a P-2 visa is only valid for the amount of time required to complete the event which was the purpose of entering the U.S.. A P-2 visa’s time limit may not exceed one year.
How Do I Qualify for a P-2 Visa?
P-2 visa holders generally receive the following benefits:
- Your dependants may stay with you so long as your P-2 status is maintained;
- Your dependants are allowed to attend school while your P-2 status is maintained; and
- Provided your visa is valid, you may travel freely in and out of the United States.
In order to qualify for and obtain a P-2 visa as an artist and/or entertainer, you must meet the following criteria:
- Provide proof that an exchange program exists between the United States organization and the foreign organization;
- Those involved in the organization’s exchange program are equally qualified;
- Those involved in the exchange program are to be employed under similar conditions, for similar amounts of time;
- Prove that you are not only highly experienced, but also possess skills comparable to those of United States participants involved in the reciprocal program; and
- Provide proof that an appropriate labor organization is involved in negotiating the program.
To qualify for and obtain a P-2 visa as an essential support person, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must prove that your role is integral to the performance of the P-2 artist;
- You provide support services that cannot be carried out by U.S. workers; and
- You possess the appropriate qualifications, knowledge, and experience necessary in providing your support services to the artist(s), entertainer(s), and/or athlete(s).
How Do I Obtain a P-2 Visa?
Once you have established that you are qualified to obtain a P-2 visa, you will need to find someone to sponsor you. This sponsor must be a U.S. employer, and they must file USCIS form I-129. Additionally, your sponsor will need to file a petition for a nonimmigrant worker with O/P supplement, as well as any supporting documentation. All of these items must be filed with the USCIS, or, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
If the USCIS approves of the application, you may then apply for your P-2 visa at an American Consulate near you. For the best chances of approval, you should file with the Consulate located in the country where you live. You will need to provide the following:
- Either the original or a copy of the Notice of Action, Form I-797A or B;
- Department of Safety Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application;
- A copy of your valid passport;
- A color photograph, passport style, which shows your full face without any sort of head covering against a light background (unless you must wear a head covering for religious reasons); and
- A letter from your U.S. employer and sponsor, which provides details regarding your position as well as a statement claiming that you possess the skills essential to the performance of the job being offered.
What Else Should I Know About a P-2 Visa?
Generally speaking, a P-2 visa is issued for the amount of time necessary to complete the event, activity, or performance. This does not usually exceed one year. After one year, the USCIS may authorize an extension in increments of one year, in order to complete the same event for which you primarily obtained the P-2 visa.
Extensions must be filed with the USCIS, and should be filed within 45 days prior to your visa’s expiration date. Information regarding the length of your stay, as well as your visa’s expiration date, should be located on Form I-94.
If your application for extension is filed late, there is a chance that it will still be accepted if you can prove the following:
- The delay was the result of extraordinary circumstances which were outside of your control;
- The length of delay was reasonable, considering the circumstances;
- You have not acted in violation of your non-immigrant status, and you are currently still a nonimmigrant; and
- You are not involved in any formal removal proceedings from the U.S.
If your application for extension is denied, there are certain circumstances in which you may appeal your application. You could have other alternatives, such as filing for permanent status instead of an extension, or reapplying for the visa after a waiting period of at least one year.
As previously mentioned, your spouse and/or any dependent children who wish to accompany you may apply for P-4 visas.
Do I Need an Attorney to Apply For a P-2 Visa?
If you wish to apply for a P-2 visa, or are experiencing any issues related to your P-2 visa, you should consult with an immigration attorney. An experienced and local immigration attorney can help you meet criteria to be eligible for a visa, as well as provide you with advice regarding which visa would best suit your needs.
Finally, should any further legal issues arise, an attorney can also represent you in court, as needed.