Individuals involved in some artistic industries, such as dance and ballet productions, have noticed increasing scrutiny of and crackdown on issuing visas for dancers and other artists to perform in the U.S. Whereas theatre directors reported virtually no difficulties in securing visas for these artists over the last 25 years, they now report the necessity of canceling performances and booking last-minute, fill-in performances when dancers are unable to secure the visas required for travel to the U.S.
The types of visas most commonly requested in the dance industry are O-1B visas and P-1B visas. O-1B visas are for individuals of “extraordinary ability in the arts” to travel to the U.S. to work. P-1B visas are for groups of two or more artists who wish to enter the U.S. solely to perform. These visas may allow entry into the U.S. for a few performances or a brief tour, or for a longer period of time, such as a 12-month contract to perform with a company. Both of these visas require an extensive amount of documentation to obtain, including press clippings, marketing materials that feature the artist, letters of support, and an in-person interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate prior to the individuals being able to enter the U.S. Plus, one artistic director of a dance company estimates that it costs about $5,000 or more to process a single application.
U.S. employers, sponsors, and agents are responsible for assembling these lengthy visa applications, which are now subject to heightened scrutiny by the U.S. government in its efforts to allegedly prevent fraud. Experts now recommend starting the visa application process at least six months prior to the expected entry of the artist into the U.S. While some choose to pay the $1,225 premium processing fee, it often slows down the regular processing time for visa applications. This is compounded by the fact that only two U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing centers in the country handle O and P-type visa applications, and that the numbers of O and P-type visa applications have increased in recent years.
At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you obtain the visa that you need, based on your situation. We will focus all of our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout the immigration process. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering documentation to support your goals. Allow us to handle your immigration law case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.