P-1 Visas for Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups11 Jun 2018
The P-1 nonimmigrant visa category is divided into two subcategories: P1A, which is reserved for internationally recognized athletes, and P1B, which is available to members of an internationally recognized entertainment group. The focus here is the P1B visa.
Group Must Consist of Two or More Individuals
Unlike other visa classifications for entertainers, the P1B is based on the reputation of the group itself, rather than any one individual member. The P1B visa is not available to solo artists, since a group must consist of at least two people. On the plus side, there is no limitation on the number of beneficiaries that can be filed with the same petition. For instance, a 200-piece symphony orchestra only needs to file one petition and pay one filing fee. This classification is commonly used for musical and dance groups of varying types, but entertainment groups such as circus acts and sketch comedy troupes would qualify as well.
Sustained and Substantial Recognition
In order to qualify for the P1B, the group must be recognized internationally as being outstanding in their discipline for a sustained and substantial duration. “Sustained and substantial” is defined as a period of at least one year. Recognition typically is documented through evidence of awards, press coverage, and expert testimonials.
The P1B entertainment group’s recognition must be international, meaning that it has received recognition in more than one country. Extensive recognition in its home country alone is not enough. Therefore, evidence of international recognition is most commonly demonstrated through press coverage of the group’s performances abroad. Yet, prior international tours are not strictly necessary, and the regulations do provide some additional options. First, the group can achieve international recognition if its performances have been covered by foreign press. A Spanish dance company could be considered to be internationally recognized if its performances in Madrid were covered by Portuguese newspapers, for example.
Additionally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may waive the international recognition requirement in certain circumstances, such as when geographic limitations make travel particularly difficult or when there is limited access to news media. The latter case, for instance, could be applied to groups from Cuba.
Seventy-Five Percent Rule
As previously discussed, the P1B is based on the international recognition of the group rather than any individual member. The petition must be able to demonstrate that at least 75 percent of a group’s members must have been a part of the group for at least one year.
U.S. Based Entertainment Groups
Under the regulations there is no requirement for a P1B group to be based outside of the U.S., only that it has sustained, international recognition. This means that, as long as 75 percent of the group’s members have been with the group for at least one year, new members may be able to join established U.S. entertainment groups through use of the P1B visa as well.
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