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US visas for VIPs

Creative and entertainment industry specialists

Our team of US immigration specialists have particular experience in the creative and entertainment industries, and have helped many actors, musicians, artists, sportspeople, dancers and other performers (along with their supporting staff) to gain entry to the United States through specialist visas that recognize their ‘extraordinary ability’. In addition, we can help members of the foreign press and religious workers to apply for US visas specific to their occupations.

Work visas for those with extraordinary abilities

We are well versed in the specific needs of VIPs; we work closely with all our clients to ensure that they are free to focus on their talents and careers while their US immigration needs are taken care of smoothly and efficiently.

We can help with:

  • O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement visa
  • I Representatives of Foreign Media visa
  • P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete visa
  • P-1B Member of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group visa
  • R-1 Temporary Religious Worker visa
  • EB-1 Employment-Based Immigration visa for those with extraordinary ability
  • Any other US immigration options that might be open to you – contact us to find out about potential eligibility

FAQs about US visas for VIPs

While residents of countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are often eligible to travel to the United States with an ESTA, entertainers are not permitted to perform in the US while visiting under this arrangement. There are some limited exceptions, however:

  • Professional entertainers may visit the United States on an ESTA if they are going only to participate in a cultural program sponsored by the sending country, they will perform in front of a non-paying audience, and all expenses will be paid by the entertainer’s government.
  • Professional entertainers may visit the United States under the VWP to participate in a competition so long as they receive no payment other than a prize and their expenses.
  • Musicians may visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program to use recording facilities. However, the recordings may not be distributed or sold in the US and no live performances may be undertaken.

A P-1B visa is only for members of internationally recognized entertainment groups – and that includes musicians, dancers, and other performers, along with their essential support personnel. The group’s reputation is the focus, rather than the individual talent. The requirements are:

  • The group must have been together for at least one year
  • 75% of the members must have been in the group for at least one year
  • The reputation of the group must be substantial. The group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.

The O-1B visa is for people with extraordinary ability and an impressive track record in the arts. The requirements are:

  • You must have extraordinary ability in the arts or a history of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture television industry
  • You must wish to visit the United States to perform or work in your field
  • You must be performing or working at one or more ‘events’
  • You need a US employer, US agent, or a foreign employer acting through a US agent, in order to file your petition
  • You must receive an advisory opinion from a peer group, labor organization, or management organization

The specific terms of actors’ visas enable those involved in the film, television and theatre industries to further their careers Stateside – not just actors, but producers, directors, coaches, makeup artists and other crew.

You can live and work in the United States for an extended period – the duration of your stay could potentially be unlimited as you may extend your visa as many times as necessary – and you can work for multiple employers while you are in the US. In addition, you can bring with you your spouse, your children under the age of 21, and your essential support personnel.

Yes. Your spouse, your children under the age of 21, and your essential support personnel, can all travel with you on an actor’s visa.

If you do not receive income for your work, then you do not need a visa, you can enter the United States with an ESTA. If you do receive payment for your work, you may need an O-1B visa.

If you plan to release your recordings for sale in the US, then yes, you will. However, if you will not be selling the recordings to the US market, and you do not give any live performances, then you may travel on an ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program.

The best first step is to hire an experienced US immigration attorney, as both the P-1B and O-1B applications are very complicated, and the penalties for not having the correct US visa are severe. You will need to collect all the supporting documents required. Your attorney will then complete the petition and form I-129 with USCIS.

Once the I-129 petition is approved you will be able to apply for your US visa. If you are already in the United States, you will automatically change status. On receiving your approval notice, your attorney will arrange an appointment for you at your local Embassy or Consulate, and complete a visa application for you. They will also prepare you for your consular. You will find out whether you have been granted a visa at this appointment, although it will take 5-10 business days to receive your visa.

Expert advice on US immigration

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