What is a P-3 visa?

The P-3 visa is meant for individual artists or entertainment groups who are coming to the United States to teach, develop, coach, represent or perform a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical or artistic presentation that is culturally unique.  For immigration purposes, the term “culturally unique” has been defined 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.”  The purpose of P-3 visas is to allow artists and groups to come to the U.S. to participate in cultural performances or presentations that will enhance and develop understanding of their culturally unique art form. An example of artists or groups that would potentially qualify for the P-3 visa include an Indian dance group coming to the U.S. to perform a classical Indian dance form, such as Bharatanatyam or an African music instructor coming to teach lessons in an instrument like the kora, a West African stringed instrument similar to a harp.

What is the process for getting a P-3 visa?

In order to get a P-3 visa, the artist or group’s sponsoring organization or a U.S. employer must file a petition with the USCIS on their behalf. The application must include evidence such as letters, affidavits and testimonials from recognized experts in the relevant field that confirm the authenticity of the individual or group’s skills in the unique art form. Alternatively, the group can provide documentation from newspapers, journals or other published media showing that the performances are culturally unique and all the planned performances in the U.S. must be culturally unique events. Additionally, the application must include copies of written contracts between the sponsoring organization or US employer and the artists, a detailed itinerary describing all planned events, and a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization that confirms the cultural uniqueness of the applicant’s skills and that the events are cultural ones which are appropriate for the P-3 category.

How long will the P-3 visa be granted for? Can I bring my spouse and children? Can I bring support staff?

P-3 visas are granted for the amount of time needed to complete the performance, presentation or event and the maximum amount of time that can be granted is one year. Spouses and dependent children may accompany the P-3 applicant in P-4 status and may attend school, but may not work in the U.S.. Support personnel who are integral and essential to the success of the performance or presentation can apply for P-3S visas in a separate application that must include a copy of the written contract between the sponsoring organization and applicant, a consultation from an appropriate labor organization and a statement confirming the applicant’s work history, essential skills and experience working with the principal applicant. The statement must demonstrate that the applicant performs services which could not easily be performed by a U.S. worker and that the services are critical to the success of the performance. The applicant must also demonstrate that he or she has prior experience providing support services to the principal P-3 applicant.

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