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P4 Visa

The P4 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows individuals to temporarily come to the United States if they are the spouse or the unmarried child(ren) of a P1, P2, or P3 visa holder. The purpose of the P4 visa is to allow family members of the primary P visa holder to be with them in the United States during the primary P visa holder’s competition, event, or performance.

Who qualifies for a P4 visa?

In order to qualify for the P4 visa, an individual must be the spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 to a P1, P2, or P3 visa holder. The P4 visa applicant must be coming to the United States temporarily to accompany or join the P1, P2, or P3 visa holder. Thus, eligibility for the P4 visa is dependent on whether a P1, P2, or P3 visa is granted to the P4 visa applicant’s family member.

Multiple P4 visas may be issued in connection with just one primary P visa. The spouse and children of a P1, P2, or P3 visa holder may all qualify for a P4 visa at the same time, so long as the marital and age requirements are met.

What is the process for obtaining a P4 visa?

The process to apply for the P4 visa requires that both the spouse and unmarried children of the primary P visa applicant, as well as the primary P visa applicant’s employer or sponsor, submit documentation to the United States government. The steps below outline the application process:

  1. Step One: Primary P Visa Holder Receives Approved Form I-129

    Because the P4 visa is for family members of primary P visa holders, the primary P visa holder must have their potential U.S. employer or sponsor file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS and receive approval.

    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.
  2. Step Two: P4 Visa Applicant(s) Submits Form DS-160

    The P4 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.

  3. Step Three: Interview Requirement

    After submitting the form DS-160, a P visa applicant will receive form I-797 and must attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate where an official will evaluate an applicant’s application and ask questions pertaining to why the applicant is seeking an P4 visa, and the relationship between the P4 applicant and the primary visa holder. If the P4 applicant applies at the same time as the primary applicant, both may attend the interview.

    At the interview, an applicant must bring:

    • The P visa holder’s form I-797;
    • A copy of the P visa holder’s passport;
    • A copy of the P visa holder’s visa;
    • The applicant’s valid passport;
    • A photograph that conforms to U.S. visa photo requirements;
    • A copy of the DS-160 confirmation page;
    • Receipts showing the applicant paid all fees;
    • The interview confirmation letter;
    • Proof of the applicant’s relationship with the P visa holder:
      • Valid marriage certificates for a spouse;
      • Valid birth certificate for children
  4. Step Four: Enter the United States

    Approval of the P4 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate does not mean the P4 visa holder will automatically be permitted entry into the United States. The United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will ultimately determine whether the P4 visa holder(s) may enter the United States. P4 visa holders should present their visa and other identifying information at a U.S. port of entry in order to be permitted entrance into the United States.

  5. Step Five: Applicants Already in the United States

    Individuals who are already in the United States under different visa may apply for a P4 visa from within the United States if their spouse or parent is also applying for a P1, P2, or P3 visa from within the United States.

    In order to apply for a P4 visa from within the United States, an individual must submit Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to the USCIS and pay the filing fee.

    When submitting Form I-539, the P4 visa applicant must provide the following documentation:

    • Current U.S. visa in passport, if any;
    • Copy of current Form I-94 from CBP;
    • Copy of admission stamp in passport;
    • Copy of DS-2019, I-20, or I-797A/I-797B, as applicable;
    • Copy of passport biodata/expiration pages;
    • Copy of marriage certificate for spouse;
    • Copy of birth certificate for each child; and
    • Copies of any other required documentation listed on the Form I-539 instructions.

Can P4 visa holders apply for a green card?

P4 visa holder essential support personnel may not generally apply for a green card based on their P4 visa. The P4 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 work in the United States under the P4 visa?

No. The P4 visa does not permit individuals to work in the United States. Individuals who engage in unauthorized employment while in the United States can face serious consequences, including deportation and a temporary ban on entry into the U.S. P4 visa holders can apply to change their status to another nonimmigrant visa category that allows the visa holder to hold employment in the United States.

Can you study in the United States under the P4 visa?

Yes. P4 visa holders may study full-time or part-time while in the United States so long as the original conditions of the P4 visa are adhered to. If the educational program lasts longer than the period of validity for the P4 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 P4 visa.

How much does it cost to apply for a P4 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 P4 visa valid?

Generally, the P4 visa is valid for as long as it takes the P1, P2, or P3 visa holder to complete the event, competition, or performance, but is capped at one year. Extensions may be requested by the primary P visa holder by re-filing Form I-129 with the USCIS. The P4 visa can be extended with the primary P visa. 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.

The P4 visa is only valid for children who are unmarried and under the age of 21. Individuals who will reach 21 while in the United States on the P4 visa will have a shorter period of validity. Such individuals can seek a different type of nonimmigrant visa, such as a student visa, in order to stay in the United States at age 21 and above.

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.