Understanding U.S. immigration rules for temporary performers

It's common for entertainers and artists from other countries to come to Illinois to perform. Given the current climate regarding immigration, there can be confusion as to how those who are entering the United States as performers will be treated. Adhering to the law based on the required P-2 classification is critical to avoid legal violations.

When an individual comes to the U.S. as an entertainer or artist, they will be classified as P-2 granting temporary status to perform. It can be an individual or within a group. An organization based in the U.S. and one in a different country will have an exchange. The person must have skills that compare to counterparts in the U.S. A U.S.-based labor organization must sponsor the person to work under P-2. A Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker, Form I-129, must be filed.

The petition must contain: a labor organization consultation; the reciprocal agreement; a statement with a description of the reciprocal exchange; proof that the artists' skills are comparable; and proof that a U.S. labor organization took part in the negotiation.

After the visa is approved, the applicant must apply at the consulate or embassy. The initial period for which the person can stay lasts for one year. There can be an extension for one year at a time to complete ongoing performances. Spouses and unmarried children younger than 21 can be granted P-4 status. Essential personnel required for the performance can also receive P-2 status.

Immigration is often complicated. With the way in which the process is now treated and the scrutiny visitors to the U.S. are under to prevent illegal immigration, knowing how to get a visa to perform in the U.S. might be worrisome. A lawyer could provide assistance with the P-2 classification and other immigration matters.

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