US Visa Options for Canadian Musicians

Montreal’s largest music festival, Osheaga, is happening this weekend. It promises to bring great entertainment and culture to the city.

The biggest acts generally come to Montreal from the US: The Lumineers (Denver), Childish Gambino (Atlanta), and Logic (Maryland). Canada and the US have a strong relationship and work together to facilitate the exchange of talent across the border.

With an influx of US acts heading north, it is a good time to review what Canadian artists need to perform in the US. Below are some US Visa options for Canadian entertainers.

When a Canadian goes to the US, they usually go in “B” status. Canadians do not need a Visa from a US Consulate or an approval notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to enter in B status. Just show up at the border and present your passport!

For short trips to the US, B status is ideal because very little, if any, preparation needs to be done before travelling. So, let’s review which artists can use B status to work in the US.

Generally, musicians and singers cannot use B status to enter the US to perform. There are some exceptions though.

A professional entertainer may be classified B-1 if the entertainer:

  1. Is coming to the United States to participate only in a cultural program sponsored by the sending country;
  2. Will be performing before a nonpaying audience; and
  3. All expenses, including per diem, will be paid by the member’s government.

A professional entertainer may be classified B-1 if the entertainer:

  1. Is coming to the United States to participate in a competition for which there is no remuneration other than a prize (monetary or otherwise) and expenses.

An alien musician may be issued a B-1 visa, provided:

  1. The musician is coming to the United States in order to utilize recording facilities for recording purposes only;
  2. The recording will be distributed and sold only outside the United States; and
  3. No public performances will be given.

These restrictions are often not workable for artists, so they look to other options.

The O-1 Visa is the holly-grail for entertainers. To qualify for an O-1, it must be demonstrated that the artist possesses extraordinary ability in his or her field. Initial applications for an O-1 can be granted for a period of up to 3 years and with premium processing you are guaranteed to have your application processed within 15 calendar days. The O-1 is looked upon so highly because it offers the applicant flexibility and security.

The P Visa may be the right fit for artists who are going to the US to 1) perform with a group that is internationally recognized, 2) perform under a reciprocal exchange program between the US and Canada, or 3) perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique.

Call Silver Immigration today and let us help you decide which US Visa option is right for you!