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P2S Visa Guide For Essential Support Personnel of P-2 Artists & Entertainers

Supporting artists and entertainers in the U.S. is no small task, but with the P2S visa, essential support personnel can join in seamlessly. 

This guide simplifies the P2S visa process, covering what you need to know, from requirements to paperwork. 

Whether you’re a manager, technician, or part of the crew, this easy-to-follow resource ensures you’re equipped to assist your artists or entertainers every step of the way.

What is a P2S Visa? 

A P2S Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows individuals to temporarily come to the United States in order to provide support to a P-2 visa-holding artist or entertainer.  A P2S Visa is only issued in connection to the issuance of a P-2 visa. 

Who qualifies for a P2S Visa? 

In order to qualify for a P2S Visa, it must be necessary that the individual provide essential support services to a P-2 visa holder while they are in the United States.  An individual provides essential support services if they are an integral part of the P-2 visa holder’s performance while in the United States.  Additionally, this visa holder must be providing support services for the P-2 visa holder that cannot be readily performed or provided by a U.S. worker.  

Common examples of P2S Visa support personnel include stagehands or trainers, or those who have critical knowledge of the services to be performed. 

What is the process for obtaining a P2S Visa? 

The process to apply for this visa requires that both the essential support personnel and their employer or sponsor 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 this visa requires the applicant’s agent, potential employer, or sponsor to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker specifically for the essential support personnel. this visa essential support personnel must have their own Form I-129 submitted by the petitioner. It is not sufficient to file only one Form I-129 intended for both the P-2 visa artist or entertainer and this visa essential support personnel. 

In addition to Form I-129, a written consultation from an applicable labor organization appropriate for this visa must be submitted as well.  A labor organization is appropriate if it has expertise in the area of essential support personnel’s skill.  Both the Form I-129 and the written consultation from a labor organization 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 this visa applicant’s integral support to the P-2 visa holder, including that no U.S. worker is available to provide the same service as this visa applicant.  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

this visa applicant must have a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization that identifies the work or services to be performed by the P-2S applicant while in the United States, as well as their qualifications for the work.  The labor organization must have expertise in the area of essential support personnel skills.  The labor organization may also submit a letter stating they do not object to the petition being approved.

Evidence of Events in the United States 

Along with the written consultation, the USCIS advises that the P-2S applicant 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.  This should include an explanation of the events to occur in the United States.

Evidence of Agreement 

The petitioning employer or sponsor must also provide a copy of the oral or written agreement between the employer or sponsor and this visa applicant(s). 

Evidence of Essentiality  

Evidence must also be submitted in the form of a statement that describes this visa applicant’s essentiality and critical skills. Additionally, the statement must describe this visa applicant’s experience with the P-2 visa holder.

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: P2S Visa Applicant Submits Form DS-160 

this visa applicant must complete the 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 P-2S applicant 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, this visa applicant 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 this visa.  

At the interview, this 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 agreement between employer/sponsor and visa applicant; 
  • Evidence of essentiality and critical skills; 
  • Evidence of past experience with the P-2 visa holder;
  • 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.

Travel and Accommodation Tips for P-2S Visa Holders

As a P-2S visa holder providing essential support to P-1 visa holders in the United States, consider the following tips for a smooth travel experience:

  1. Purpose of P-2S Visa: The P-2S visa is designed for essential support staff of P-1 visa holders, such as coaches, trainers, and support personnel, to come to the United States. P-2S visa holders must understand their role and the purpose of their visit.
  2. Documentation: P-2S visa holders should ensure they have all the necessary documentation, including their visa, passport, and any supporting letters or contracts from their employer or sponsor. Having these documents readily available can facilitate entry into the United States.
  3. Accommodation: P-2S visa holders should arrange suitable accommodation for their stay in the U.S. It is advisable to book accommodations in advance to ensure a comfortable and convenient stay during their time supporting the P-1 visa holder.
  4. Travel Insurance: Considering the uncertainties of travel, P-2S visa holders may benefit from obtaining travel insurance to cover unexpected events like trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage. Travel insurance can provide peace of mind during their stay in the U.S.
  5. Cultural Adaptation: P-2S visa holders should familiarize themselves with American culture, customs, and etiquette to ease their transition and interactions while in the United States. Understanding cultural nuances can help them navigate social situations more effectively.
  6. Transportation: Familiarize yourself with transportation options in the area where you will be staying. Whether it’s public transportation, rental cars, or ride-sharing services, knowing how to get around can make your stay more convenient.
  7. Communication: Ensure you have a reliable means of communication while in the U.S. Having a local SIM card or access to Wi-Fi can help you stay connected with colleagues, friends, and family during your stay.

By following these travel and accommodation tips, P-2S visa holders can have a smoother and more enjoyable experience during their time supporting P-1 visa holders in the United States.

FAQ’s

Can P2S Visa holders apply for a green card? 

P2S Visa holder essential support personnel may not generally apply for a green card based on their P2S Visa.  this visa requires the visa holder to declare their intention to return to their home abroad and prove they have an established residence abroad that they will keep through the duration of their stay in the U.S. 

Can you study in the United States under this visa? 

Yes. P2S Visa holders may study full-time or part-time while in the United States so long as the original conditions of this visa are adhered to.  If the educational program lasts longer than the period of validity for this visa, the visa holder should apply for a student visa that would permit them to remain in the United States for the purpose of completing their education.  Continuing education is not a valid basis for extending this visa. 

How much does it cost to apply for a P2S Visa? 

  • The fee to submit form DS-160 is $160.
  • The cost of any biometrics fee is $85
  • The fee to submit Form I-129 is $460
  • Medical exam costs vary

For how long is this visa valid? 

Generally, this visa is valid for as long as it takes the P-2 visa holder to complete the event, competition, or performance, but is capped at one year.  

Extensions may be requested by the primary P-2 visa holder by re-filing Form I-129 with the USCIS.  this visa can be extended with the primary P-visa by also re-filing Form I-129.  Extensions will be granted if the primary P-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.