P-2 Petitions: Reciprocal Exchange Program
The P-2 classification is for artists and entertainers, individually or as a group (including essential support personnel), performing under a bilateral, reciprocal exchange program between an entity in the U.S. and an entity in a given foreign country, which program seeks to maintain rough similarity in terms of the caliber of artists exchanged, their terms and conditions of employment, and overall numbers. A labor organization must have been involved in negotiating the program, or at least have concurred in its establishment.
As a practical matter, the only publicly available P-2 programs at the moment are conducted under the auspices of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), with its Canadian counterpart, and Actors' Equity, with British Equity, Canadian Actors' Equity Association, and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (for beneficiaries from Australia and New Zealand). The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) abolished the P-2 program with its Canadian counterpart. In these cases, the union itself, with the active involvement of its foreign counterpart, can serve as petitioner. While AFM requires that it serve as petitioner for P-2 petitions, there is no barrier to a private petitioner filing a P-2 petition with the Actors’ Equity’s concurrence. Otherwise, the rules are pretty much the same as for other P petitions, in terms of separate petitions for support personnel, itineraries, and the maximum classification period of one year.
The P-2 process varies significantly between the AFM and Actors’ Equity. In return for a small fee, AFM serves as petitioner, and prepares and files the petition. Contact Actors’ Equity for complete details on their approach to P-2 petitions. In any case, be certain to leave ample time to familiarize yourself with the procedures and navigate the process.