P-3S Visa


What is the P-3S visa?

The P-3S visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows individuals to temporarily come to the United States in order to provide support to a P-3 visa holder under a program that is culturally unique. The P-3S visa is only issued in connection to issuance of a P-3 visa.

Who qualifies for a P-3S visa?

In order to qualify for the P-3S visa, it must be necessary that the individual provide essential support services to a P-3 visa holder while they are in the United States. An individual provides essential support services if they are an integral part of the P-3 visa holder’s performance or teaching while in the United States. Additionally, the P-3S visa holder must be providing support services for the P-3 visa holder that cannot be readily performed or provided by a U.S. worker.

Some common examples of P-3S visa support personnel include coaches, scouts, stagehands, or trainers, or those who have critical knowledge of the services to be performed.

What is the process for obtaining a P-3S visa?

The process to apply for the P-3S 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 the P-3S visa requires the applicant’s agent, potential employer, or sponsor file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker specifically for the essential support personnel. The P-3S 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-3 visa artist or entertainer and the P-3S visa essential support personnel.

In addition to Form I-129, a written consultation from an applicable labor organization appropriate for the P-3S visa must be submitted as well. A labor organization is appropriate if it has expertise in the area of the 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 the P-3S visa applicant’s integral support to the P-3 visa holder, including that no U.S. worker is available to provide the same service as the P-3S 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

The P-3S visa applicant must have a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization that identifies the work or services to be performed by the P-3S applicant while in the United States, as well as their qualifications for the work. The labor organization must have expertise in the area of the essential support personnel’s skill. 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-3S 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 the P-3S visa applicant(s).

Evidence of Essentiality

Evidence must also be submitted in the form of a statement that describes the P-3S visa applicant’s essentiality and critical skills. Additionally, the statement must describe the P-3S visa applicant’s experience with the P-3 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: P-3S Visa Applicant Submits Form DS-160

The P-3S visa applicant 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 P-3S 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, the P-3S 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 the P-3S visa.

At the interview, the P-3S 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-3 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.

Can P-3S visa holders apply for a green card?

P-3S visa holder essential support personnel may not generally apply for a green card based on their P-3S visa. The P-3S 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 the P-3S visa?

Yes. P-3S visa holders may study full-time or part-time while in the United States so long as the original conditions of the P-3S visa are adhered to. If the educational program lasts longer than the period of validity for the P-3S 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 the P-3S visa.

How much does it cost to apply for a P-3S 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 the P-3S visa valid?

Generally, the P-3S visa is valid for as long as it takes the P-3 visa holder to complete the event, competition, or performance, but is capped at one year.

Extensions may be requested by the primary P-3 visa holder by re-filing Form I-129 with the USCIS. The P-3S 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.