Classification Periods

All new O or P petitions, including those involving a change of status, may be approved for the duration of the event (itinerary, contract, etc.) in question. The maximum initial approval period for O petitions is three years. The maximum for P petitions is one year. However, obtaining the maximum period of time is a function of the proposed event and how it is described. Gaps between performances that are not explained in the petition may raise concerns and it is best to limit gaps to no more than 60 days between performances whenever possible.  While it is possible to obtain full classification periods with longer gaps of time between performances, some USCIS officers will insist that performances more than 60 days apart require separate filings, particularly if the petitioner does not provide an explanation of the artist's plans to depart the U.S. during the gap. USCIS has issued an official memorandum clarifying that that there is no policy limiting the allowable gap between engagements in an itinerary.

Where possible, especially in the case of P-3 itineraries with gaps of even as little as a few weeks, provide documentation, of the same type provided to support the requested itinerary, that the beneficiary(ies) will be performing outside the U.S. during the gap. This may allay the natural concern of USCIS that the beneficiary(ies) will have no means of support while in the U.S. during the gap and may thus be forced to work at other jobs, without authorization, to make ends meet.

USCIS permits O and P aliens to enter the U.S. up to ten days before the classification period starts and to remain in the U.S. for up to ten days after the classification period ends, provided they do not work during these times. As a practical matter, while visas are valid when issued by consulates, and thus constitute valid travel documents, CBP should NOT admit an alien in the desired status until ten days before the classification period begins. Moreover, if the alien intends to remain for up to ten days beyond the classification period, s/he must be sure CBP tacks the extra ten days onto the I-94 on initial entry. Many CBP inspectors are unaware of this provision, so it may help if the alien understands that no work will be permitted and is prepared to request the extra ten days available under 8 CFR § 214.2(o)(10) or (p)(12). Consider passing this citation on to the alien with an explanation of its significance before the alien leaves for the U.S. Remind the alien who intends to request the extra ten days to check his/her I-94 before departing inspection on entry. Artists seeking to remain in the United States as a tourist for more than 10 days after the O or P visa work period ends must apply for a change in status to a B-2 visa after arriving in the U.S.

USCIS may grant extensions of stay, in the same status and filed by the same petitioner as before, in all O and P categories for up to one year at a time, subject to the same general considerations as above. Please see our Extension of Stay section for complete details.