A P-3 visa is a temporary employment visa which allows artists and entertainers to come to the U.S. in order to perform at a culturally unique event.

Who is Eligible for a P-3 Visa?

In order to be eligible for this visa, an artist or entertainer must be coming to the U.S. either individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique. The purpose of the visit must be to develop, interpret, represent, coach or teach a particular art form. These can include:

  • Anything that is traditional or unique to a particular ethnic group.
  • Anything representative of a particular culture.
  • Musical events.
  • Theatrical performances.
  • Artistic performances.

In general, to qualify for the visa, your visit must be to further the understanding or development of your art form and the cultural program can be commercial or noncommercial in nature.

What is the Application Process and What Documents Do You Need for a P-3 Visa?

It is necessary that a sponsoring organization or a U.S. employer file Form I-129 which is a petition for non-immigrant workers. A petitioner who is filing as an agent for multiple employers has to establish that they are duly authorized to act as an agent. The following documents must be included in your Form I-129:

  • A consultation that is written from an appropriate labor organization;
  • A copy of the contract that the petitioner and the beneficiary agreed to or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement that the petitioner and the beneficiary agreed to;
  • An explanation of the event and the itinerary;
  • Affidavits, testimonials or letters from recognized experts which attest to the authenticity of your or your group’s skills in performing, presenting, coaching or teaching the unique and traditional art forms;
    • Or you can provide documentation that your or your group’s performance is culturally unique through evidence such as reviews in newspapers, journals or other published materials.
  • If you are using expert testimony, it is necessary to give the credentials of the expert which includes the basis of their knowledge of your or your group’s skills; and
  • Documentation which shows that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events.

Besides meeting the criteria for culturally unique events, if the events or performances will take place in multiple areas, an itinerary must be submitted. The itinerary has to list the dates and locations of the events.

The initial period of stay refers to the time needed to complete the events, activities or performances and it cannot exceed one year. However, there is also the possibility of extension of stay which allows increments of up to one year in order to complete the events, activities or performances.

What About Employment Changes and Support Personnel?

Artists and entertainers can change employers but only after the new employer has filed a Form I-129 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which requests permission to employ you and extend your stay. You cannot start your employment with the new employer until the Form I-129 has been approved.

However, artists and entertainers may also have essential support personnel who are an integral part of the performances and who perform support services which cannot readily be performed by the artists and entertainers. In such cases, even support personnel are eligible for a P-3 visa but the U.S. employer must file a separate Form I-129 for the support personnel and the petition must include certain documents.

What About Family Members?

The spouse and unmarried children of a P-3 visa holder may obtain P-4 visa status. However, the children have to be under the age of 21 to be eligible and the dependents of P-3 visa holders cannot be employed in the U.S. but they can attend school or college.

What are P-1 and P-2 visas?

Similar to P-3 visas, P-1 and P-2 visas are also temporary employment visas. P-1 visas are applicable for athletes or athletic teams that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time. P-1 visas are not available to individual entertainers but they are available to members of groups that have an international or national reputation if they meet certain requirements.

In contrast, P-2 visas are available to artists or entertainers who come to the U.S. to perform under a reciprocal exchange program between the U.S. and one or more other countries. They can come either individually or as part of a group and all essential support personnel are included. The applicant will have to present certain types of evidence including a formal, written exchange agreement.

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Issues with My P-3 Visa?

Immigration laws, including those for visas, can be difficult to understand. If you are considering applying for a temporary employment visa such as P-3 visa, it would be beneficial to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. An attorney can help you understand the requirements and guide you through the process for obtaining a visa.