Do not circumvent the visa process!Must an alien go through such a complicated process just to work for a short time in the U.S.? Yes. Even if no compensation is involved? Yes. In other words, just because a beneficiary will be performing in the U.S. for no compensation (or just for expenses) does NOT mean that an O or P visa is not required. O and P beneficiaries are not required to be paid at all, but, to undertake the activities described in their petitions, they must in fact have the appropriate work-related visa classification. O and P petitioners and beneficiaries who fail to comply with the rules take risks that can limit short-term options and impose long-term consequences on all parties involved.
Carefully review the detailed instructions for compliance with visa requirements. U.S. immigration law is complex and can be confusing. Each scenario for engaging an international artist will require a tailored approach to the visa process, particularly those complicated cases requiring unusual procedures and additional effort. This website is an arts-specific supplement to the USCIS publication entitled “Instructions for Completing Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker Form I-129”, and its instructions for O and P petitions. The News section of our site is a good point of reference to review recent policy developments, fee increases, and visa processing details related to artist visas. Always check this website and the USCIS website for updates on instructions and fee schedules.
H-1B visas are not for performing artists. By law, the H-1B nonimmigrant classification is not for artists coming to perform in the U.S., even though at least one USCIS service center still approves H-1B petitions for performers. Do not be tempted to apply for an H-1B visa for a performer.
Post-9/11, USCIS and U.S. consulates alike may conduct multiple layers of security checks before approving petitions, issuing visas, or admitting aliens. In some cases, the delays required to conduct these checks can be substantial, so be sure to review that page and learn which rules might apply to alien beneficiaries.