How do I help my amateur non-American singer get a U.S. visa?
November 6, 2009 10:41 AM   Subscribe

I've been working with a Finnish singer who hopes to come to the U.S. next spring. Ideally, we'd like to play some shows in the U.S., but it looks like obtaining a visa may be very challenging...

She has contacted the U.S. Embassy, who informed her:

Even as an amateur musician you must have a work permit approved by the US immigration. The US-contact needs to file the work petition, Form I-129 ( under ‘Forms’) with the USCIS.

I reviewed the I-129, and it looks like our best bet is to file as a P-3: "an alien coming temporarily to perform, teach, or coach, individually, or as part of a group, in the arts or entertainment fields in a program that is culturally unique."

In order to file as a P-3, we must submit

1) A written consultation from an appopriate labor organization

2) Evidence that all performances will be culturally unique and documentation that the performance of the alien or group is culturally unique as evidenced by actual reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials.

So, we are lacking in these items. And I suspect that a demo CD isn't really enough to get reviews in any type of publication that will be good enough for the DHS. She probably has until the end of January to file, so we have a couple of months to scrounge something up.

Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions?
posted by malocchio to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I needed a lawyer to help me navigate US immigration laws. If you decide to check with one I recommend the American Immigrant Lawyers Association's Immigrant Lawyer Search website.
posted by Kattullus at 11:35 AM on November 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, I'm afraid I may have to lawyer up.
posted by malocchio at 11:58 AM on November 6, 2009

FYI - A P-3 also has to be coming to perform at "[cultural] which will further the understanding or development of his or her art form."

For criteria #1 - you can also get a letter of no objection from the labor organization in lieu of a consultation.

For criteria #2 - you need "affidavits, testimonials, or letters from recognised experts attesting to the authenticity of the alien's or the group's skills in performing..." or "documentation that the performance of the artist or group is culturally unique..." and "evidence that all of the performances will be culturally unique events." (8CFR214.2(p)(6)(B)(ii) found on page 359 here)
posted by Pollomacho at 12:20 PM on November 6, 2009

If you can get a university to sponsor the trip as part of a cultural exchange then you are gold.
posted by JJ86 at 1:38 PM on November 6, 2009

Nthing lawyer up. If possible, don't just get any old immigration lawyer, either. Look for one who knows something about artist visas.

A suggestion for how to find one: check out the credits in the playbill or on the web site of your local theater group/performance hall/etc. If you live in a decent-sized city, they'll have one who gets credited for assisting when they bring big wheels to town. That lawyer will have experience dealing with artist visas and will have a better idea of how to help you best/most cheaply.
posted by immlass at 4:01 PM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Gah. I live in near L.A., but we aren't expecting anything more than the barest compensation for unknown bands. Seriously, I'd be thrilled with $50 a gig.

If we don't get paid, is it considered work? Could she get by on a tourist visa if we refused compensation? I'm starting to consider karaoke nights and open mics.
posted by malocchio at 6:14 PM on November 6, 2009

Response by poster: heh....I work in L.A. and live nearby. Where is that edit window? :)
posted by malocchio at 6:16 PM on November 6, 2009

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