The P visa is a temporary non immigrant visa encompassing athletes, artists and entertainers. This visa category is used by athletes, artists and entertainers who wish to come to the United States to perform. There are three separate subcategories for the P visa. They are as follows:

  • P-1: Internationally acclaimed athletes or entertainer, individually or as part of a group. The P-1 classification applies to a foreign national coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.
  • P-2: Entertainers or Artists performing in a reciprocal exchange program. The exchange of artists or entertainers must be similar in terms of caliber, terms and conditions of employment (such as length of employment), and number of artists or entertainers involved in the exchange (does not preclude individual for group exchanges).
  • P-3: Entertainers or Artists performing under a culturally unique program. A P-3 beneficiary or group must be coming to the United States to perform, teach, or coach in culturally unique events; the petitioner may be a commercial producer and there is no longer requirements that the events must be performed at cultural, governmental, or education institutions. “Culturally unique” means 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.

How to Apply

The first step to obtaining a P visa is to have either the employer, or if a foreign employer, have the United States agent file a petition on behalf of the artist or entertainer. The employer must obtain an advisory opinion from a labor organization that has expertise in the area of the beneficiary’s art or entertainment field. If such an organization does not exist the employer must submit evidence as to why no one is available. This Consultation requirement must address the nature of the work to be done and whether or not the beneficiary’s qualifications are mandatory. The employer must submit ample supportive evidence to the Immigration Service. The Service Center having jurisdiction over the area where the beneficiary will work will then review of the services to be performed and make a determination. After approval of the petition by the Immigration Service, a United States consulate must issue a P visa before the beneficiary will be permitted into the country. The petition may not be filed more than 6 months before the actual need for the beneficiary’s services.

For Canadian nationals and permanent residents special procedures apply. Canadian nationals and permanent residents do not need to obtain a P visa from the US consulate, but simply present themselves at the U.S. border with the Immigration Service approval.

For assistance in assessing your qualifications and/or applying for the P visa please contact our office.


An approved petition for an individual athlete shall be valid for a period up to 5 years. An approved petition for an athletic team shall be valid for a period determined by the Immigration Service to complete the competition or event, not to exceed 1 year. An approved petition for an entertainment group shall be valid for a period of time determined by the Immigration Service to be necessary to complete the performance or event, not to exceed 1 year. A beneficiary may be admitted to the U.S. for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. Note that activities such as short vacations, promotional appearances and stopovers that are incidental and/or related to the activity to be preformed are included under the visa.


Spouses and dependents (unmarried and under the age of 21 years) of P visa holders qualify for P-4 visas. The dependants are subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the beneficiary. The dependants may not accept employment unless he or she has been granted separate employment authorization.

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