P-2 Visa


What is the P-2 visa?

The P-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows individuals to temporarily come to the United States to perform as an artist or entertainer individually or as part of a group.

Who qualifies for a P-2 visa?

In order to qualify for the P-2 visa, an individual must be coming to the United States temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Additionally, the foreign citizen P-2 visa applicant must have skills comparable to those of the United States artists or entertainers who are taking part in the exchange program outside the United States. A P-2 visa holder may come to the United States individually or as part of a group.

Currently, there are five (5) organizations that qualify as part of a reciprocal exchange program:

  • The American Federation of Musicians (U.S.) and the American Federation of Musicians (Canada);
  • Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association;
  • Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the British Actors’ Equity Association;
  • The International Council of Air Shows and the Canadian Air Show Association.
  • The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Screen Actor Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

A reciprocal exchange program with an organization not listed above may be eligible under the P-2 visa. The reciprocal exchange agreement between the organizations must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval. The USCIS will review the agreement to determine if it meets regulatory standards.

What is the process for obtaining a P-2 visa?

The process to apply for the P-2 visa requires both the artist(s) or entertainer(s) and their employer or sponsor to submit documentation to the United States government. The steps below outline the application process:

Step One: File Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

The first step to apply for the P-2 visa requires the applicant’s agent, potential employer, or sponsor file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and written consultation from an applicable labor organization appropriate for the P-2 visa. Both of these items must be filed with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Specific Evidence to be Submitted with Form I-129

When submitting Form I-129, certain evidence must be included that proves the applicant(s) artistic or entertainment ability as well as the eligibility for the exchange programs under the P-2 visa. Additionally, evidence of the contract, events, or activities that cause them to seek entry into the United States may need to be submitted with Form I-129. The evidentiary requirements are discussed in more detail below:

Labor Certification

The P-2 applicant(s) must have a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization that identifies the work or services to be performed by the P-2 applicant(s) while in the United States, as well as their qualifications for the work. The labor organization may also submit a letter stating they do not object to the petition being approved.

Additionally, the P-2 visa petitioner must submit evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the United States was involved in negotiating the reciprocal exchange of U.S. and foreign artist(s) or entertainer(s), or that the labor organization has agreed with the reciprocal exchange.

Evidence of Events in the United States

Along with the written consultation, the USCIS advises that applicant(s) submit an itinerary of the events or performances, including a list of the dates and locations of the events, if they will take place in multiple areas.

Evidence of Reciprocal Exchange Agreement

The petitioning employer or sponsor must also provide a copy of the reciprocal exchange agreement between the sponsoring U.S. organization(s) and the organization(s) in a foreign country that will participate in the exchange of U.S. and foreign artist(s) or entertainer(s). A statement from the sponsoring organization that describes the reciprocal exchange of United States artist(s) or entertainer(s) for the specific petition.

Evidence of Artistic or Entertainment Skills and Abilities

Evidence must also be submitted that proves that the P-2 visa applicant(s) and the U.S. artist(s) or entertainer(s) who are subject to the reciprocal exchange agreement have a comparable set of skills and abilities, and that the terms and conditions of employment for the U.S. and foreign artist(s) or entertainer(s) are similar.

Step Two: USCIS Process Form I-129

Once the USCIS receives Form I-129, the employer, agent, or sponsor will receive the following in return:

  • A receipt notice confirming the petition was received;
  • A notice to appear for an interview, if required;
  • A biometric services notice, if applicable; and
  • A notice of decision, Form I-797, Notice of Action.
    Step Three: P-2 Visa Applicant(s) Submits Form DS-160

The P-2 visa applicant(s) must complete Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 and pay the fee. This involves uploading a photo of the applicant that conforms to the U.S. Department of State photograph requirements. Once Form DS-160 is submitted, the employee must download and print the confirmation page showing Form DS-160 was completed and the filing fee paid. The confirmation page will need to be brought to the visa interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.

Step Four: Interview Requirement

After submitting the form DS-160, the P-2 visa applicant(s) will receive form I-797 and may be required to attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate where an official will evaluate an applicant’s application and ask questions pertaining to the applicant’s qualifications for the P-2 visa.

At the interview, the P-2 visa applicant must bring the following documentation:

  • Receipt notice Form I-797, confirming petition Form I-129 was received;
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page;
  • Copies of labor certification documentation;
  • Evidence of events in the United States;
  • Evidence of reciprocal exchange agreement;
  • Evidence of artistic or entertainment skills or abilities;
  • Valid passport(s);
  • Photos that meets photograph requirements;
  • Visa application fee receipt;
  • Visa interview confirmation letter;
  • Receipts showing the applicant(s) paid all fees;
  • The interview confirmation letter.

Can P-2 visa holders apply for a green card?

Generally, the P-2 visa requires that the visa holder maintain permanent residency in their home country or abroad elsewhere that they do not intend to abandon and intend to return to upon the completion of the activities or events in the United States. This is because the P-2 visa is a nonimmigrant temporary visa.

Despite this, a P-2 visa holder may seek to become a permanent resident without facing denial of a P-2 visa petition, change of status, or extension application if their circumstances change while they are in the U.S., such as by marrying a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident or changing status to an H-1B visa before applying.

Can you change employers under the P-2 visa?

Yes. The new employer must file a new Form I-129 and receive approval with the USCIS before the P-2 visa holder can begin the new employment. Approval of Form I-129 will permit the change in employment and permit the P-2 visa holder(s) to extend their stay in order to fulfill the new employment.

Can family members travel to the United States with the P-2 visa holder?

Yes. Family members of P-2 visa holders can travel with them to the United States by obtaining a P-4 visa. Spouses and children under the age of 21 are eligible to accompany or join their P-2 family member using the P-4 visa; however, they may not engage in employment while in the United States.

How much does it cost to apply for a P-2 visa?

  • DS-160 fee is $160
  • Potential biometrics fee is $85
  • Form I-129 is $460
  • Medical exam costs vary

For how long is the P-2 visa valid?

Generally, the P-2 visa is valid for as long as it takes the artist(s) or entertainer(s) to complete the event or performance, but is capped at one year. Extensions may be requested by re-filing Form I-129 with the USCIS. Extensions will be granted if the P-2 visa holder(s) need more time to complete the event or performance. However, extensions will be granted for no longer than one year.

Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.