O-1 Visa for Musicians

O-1 Visa for Musicians

The O-1 Visa for Musicians allows acts from all over the world to bring great entertainment and culture to the US. Beyond the O-1 there are several other visa options for entertainers, there are discussed below.

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.

To qualify for an O-1, it must be demonstrated that the artist possesses extraordinary ability in his or her field. Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

Initial applications for an O-1 can be granted for a period of up to 3 years and with premium processing, applicants are guaranteed to have a response from USCIS within 15 calendar days of submission. The O-1 is inappropriate if the beneficiary will freelance in the US or be self-employed. If the artist wants to work for multiple US employers, typically an agent will act as the petitioner. The O-1 offers flexibility, security and a path to a green card. It is highly sought-after and requires a significant amount of documentation. Read more about the O-1 Visa for Musicians here or give Silver Immigration a call to get more information.

Lastly, 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.

The United States and Canada have a very strong relationship and both countries work to facilitate the follow of artists across the border. This weekend, Montreal’s largest music festival, Osheaga, will bring big-name american acts to Montreal: The Lumineers (Denver), Childish Gambino (Atlanta), and Logic (Maryland). It is due to the strong bond among the North American countries that such festivals are able to take place.