Is It Becoming More Difficult to Obtain a U.S. Entertainment Visa?

As the New York Times reported back in 2012, the U.S. system for obtaining an entertainment visa has long aggravated foreign performers. As the 2012 article indicated, the frustration with the requirements and approvals of an entertainment visa extends to all types of performers and foreign nationals. A flamenco dancer, orchestra, and rock theatre troupe were all named. The article also found that the number of applications for entertainment visas to the U.S. was steadily dropping.

Entertainers in 2018 are facing many of the same complications and frustrations as six years ago, and possibly more. Performers and other artists are experiencing a higher rate of denial for the O and P visas, including artists that apply as ballet troupes, orchestras, and culturally unique performances. Under new policies and direction on approving any entertainment visa, it could be that 2018 is the toughest year yet to put on a show in the U.S.

What Are the Requirements for an Entertainment Visa?

At the onset, it is incredibly important to realize that approval for any O or P entertainment visa can take several months. Therefore, even if all qualifications and requirements seem in order, it is necessary to submit an application well before your intended date of travel. You can speak with a Los Angeles visa lawyer regarding the typical timeframe for visas from your country.

Provided time isn’t going to bar your approval, there are several requirements any applicant for an entertainment visa must meet.

An entertainment visa is only approved for a specific event, performance, or competition – in the case of athletes – and for a limited duration. The length of the visa is typically tied directly to the dates and times of the performance. Therefore, an applicant must have a detailed schedule of events and contracts for their time in the U.S.

Often proving intent to remain in the U.S. on a temporary basis requires more than just an itinerary. For example, the eligibility requirements for a P visa to the U.S. are higher than any O visa. As evidence of a temporary visit to the U.S., P visa applicants must have proof of a primary and permanent residence outside the U.S. before they are approved for an entertainment visa. Other eligibility requirements are universal to all U.S. visas, including not having a criminal record, applying under the appropriate visa scheme, and not having a good track record for respecting immigration laws in foreign countries, not just the U.S.

Why Are Entertainment Visas Denied?

The eligibility requirements may seem straightforward in this blog post, but they are extremely complex when you start filling out the paperwork and preparing for an interview at the consulate. A foreign national must have a concise, legitimate story to tell throughout the application process. A lack of consistency or validity will immediately result in denial of an entertainment visa.

As well, the policies around entertainment visas are changing. Performers and athletes from certain countries, such as Iran, Syria, and North Korea aren’t eligible for any visa to the U.S. and even individuals that pay for premium processing are facing complications and delays. These are all incentives to work with a Los Angeles visa lawyer to complete your application for a non-immigration visa.

Some of the other reasons an entertainment visa could be denied are incomplete paperwork, applying under the wrong visa scheme, and failing to secure visas for all members of a troupe, band or orchestra. However, the most common reason for an entertainment visa to deny an entertainment visa is for an illegitimate performance or event.

Not every type of performance will qualify for an O or P visa. Type doesn’t refer to the genre or music or category of dance. Rather, in this instance, the performance, event, or exhibit must be official. It cannot be a publicity tour or part of a training program. It also can’t be an event open to the public or part of a cultural exchange program. There are separate visas for all of these purposes.

Hire an Entertainment Visa Lawyer

Despite the complications and complexities, some of the world’s best performers and athletes come to the U.S. each year for shows and performances. Most of these entertainment visa applications are approved. If you want assurance your act, band, troupe, or team will be among those approvals, it is best to work with an entertainment visa lawyer.

At Greco Neyland, we can assist with gathering documents, finalizing your visa application, and preparing for an interview at the consulate in your home country. Want to learn more about our U.S. visa assistance? Contact Greco Neyland at (213) 295-3500.

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