Articles Posted in P3 Visas culturally unique

Great News for Arts groups coming to perform in the US. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) issued a binding precedent decision addressing the term “culturally unique” and its significance in the adjudication of P petitions for performing artists and entertainers.

The P visa was created to provide opportunities for aliens primarily performing as a group and not individually to tour in the US. The P visa, like the O1 visa, was also created by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990. In addition to covering performing and fine artists, the P1 also covers athletes.

It is important to make clear that the O1 visa (aliens of extraordinary ability) enables individuals to enter and work in their field of specialty, the P visa does not allow individuals to work unless they meet the criteria set in the law. This having been said P visa applicants do not have to have reached the pinnacle of their careers like O1 visa applicants, but P visa applicants do need to be nationally, or internationally known. For example, the group may have performed in other countries, or tour their own country and known to the community appreciating their artistic endeavors.

I have been saying for many years that the visa system is unfair for foreign artists. Take the story of Seny Daffe. Daffe was granted a visa that allows culturally unique artists entry to the U.S. In Burlington, he joined the African dance company Jeh Kulu, where he taught drumming. He held dance classes and ran workshops at local schools. He performed with the National Ballet of Guinea and performed at First Night events across the state.

In November, Daffe returned to Conakry, Guinea, to visit his family and brush up on his skills. But when he tried to come back to Vermont, he learned that he was now barred by State Department officials from returning to the U.S.

Daffe says the State Department told him that his ties to this country were too strong – his ties to his own country too weak. The question was whether he intended to eventually return to Guinea. This is a common reason for denials.