How Can an Artist Get a US Visa?

Artists are often an unusual category when it comes to US immigration. Although the US does a great deal to encourage artists and art, artists often do not fall into accepted visa categories. Most artists, for example, are not entrepreneurs or part of a business and therefore cannot enter the US on business visas. If an artist does not have family in the US, it may not be possible to enter through US visas via family sponsorship.

Yet, many artists and entertainers arrive in the US each year to enrich US culture. There are in fact several options for artists looking for US visas:

1) Many artists learn how to live and work as an artist in the US through an O Visa. O visas are for temporary non-immigrant workers who have special abilities in the arts, sciences, athletics, business, or education. The O-1A visa is specifically for applicants in business, education, or the sciences while the O-1B visa is specifically for applicants who have achieved special skills and recognition in the arts, television, or film. The O-2 visa is granted to those who must accompany an O visa holder to the US. Usually, O visas are available only for those artists, athletes, and other professionals who have achieved high levels of recognition in their field. Applicants applying for the visa must usually show evidence of media coverage, awards, and other recognition in their field to be eligible. This type of visa does not generally lead to permanent residency or a green card. However, O visa holders usually get authorization to stay and work in the US for three years and can thereafter apply to have their status renewed, one year at a time, virtually indefinitely.

2)P visas. P visas give artists and entertainers the ability to enter the US with the intention of performing in the US. To apply for this visa, applicants must usually file I-129 with the USCIS. Usually, P visas are even more temporary than O visas because artists can only enter the US and remain in the US for the length of time it takes to take part in the performance or event for which admission is being requested. The standards for P visas are lower in that unlike O visa applicants, petitioners for P visas do not need to prove that they have received awards and notable recognition. However, not all artists are eligible to apply for P visas.

3) National Special Interest Immigrant Visa. You can apply for a U visa or National Special Interest Immigrant Visa, as it is better know, by filing Form I-360. This visa category encompasses a wide range of immigrants, including victims of abuse, religious workers, and others. Some artists find that they are eligible to immigrate to the US by filing Form I-360.