Employment Visas

O & P Temporary Worker Visas

Entertainers, Athletes, and Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

The O nonimmigrant visa category enables foreign nationals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement in a variety of fields, or those who have critical skills and experience with such an individual, to obtain a temporary working visa.

The P nonimmigrant visa is available to foreign entertainment groups, athletes, or entertainers who wish to enter the United States temporarily to perform under a reciprocal exchange program or a program that is culturally unique.


Who Qualifies for an O Visa?

Foreign nationals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (or extraordinary achievement in the fields of film or television), proven by sustained national or international acclaim or receipt of inter-nationally recognized awards, may be issued an O visa to temporarily enter the United States in order to work in their area of expertise.

An individual who has the critical skills and experience necessary to assist in the artistic or athletic performance of an O visa holder for a specific event, and is an integral part of the actual performance, may also be issued an O visa. Furthermore, a dependent spouse or child of an O visa holder may also be issued an O visa.


Who Qualifies for a P Visa?

The P visa may be issued to a foreign national who is temporarily coming to the United States:

• to perform individually or as part of a team at an athletic competition with an internationally recognized level of performance;

• to perform with an entertainment group that has been internationally recognized in its field, provided the individual has had at least a one-year relationship with the group as a performer or pro-vides functions integral to the performance;

• to perform in a reciprocal exchange program be-tween a U.S. organization and one or more foreign exchange organizations that provide for the exchange of artists and entertainers;

• to perform, teach, or coach as an individual or part of a group on a program that is culturally unique; or

• is a dependent of a P visa holder in one of the
above categories.
What Must the Employer Do?

Petitions for O and P visas may be filed by a U.S. company or an authorized U.S. agent with the INS regional service center having jurisdiction over the place of intended employment.

U.S. agents may file petitions on behalf of those who are traditionally self-employed, on behalf of those who use agents to arrange short-term employment with numerous employers, and on behalf of foreign employers.

The petitions must be filed with accompanying documentation to prove that the individual is qualified for the visa. In most cases, the employer must also obtain a consultation from an appropriate union or peer group (and management organization for motion picture and television cases) regarding the nature of the work to be done and the qualifications of the foreign national.
How Long Can the Employee Stay in the United States?

An O petition may be granted for the period of time required to accomplish the event(s) or activities stated in the petition, but may not exceed three years. Further extensions are available. P visas may be granted for the period required to complete the competition or event. The maximum initial term allowable for an individual athlete is five years, for a total period of stay not to exceed 10 years. The maximum initial term for athletic teams, entertainers, and entertainment groups is one year. Ex-tensions in these categories may be granted in increments of one year to continue or complete the activity or event for which they were admitted.

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