Ask the U.S. Consul – March 2017

Question:  I’m a local artist asked to perform at a show in the U.S. next month.  I have a valid B1/B2 visa; can I use this visa to perform in the United States?

Answer: Trinidad and Tobago is a country with many talented artists, performers, and athletes. One question the U.S. Embassy receives quite regularly concerns the proper kind of visa for an artist or athlete who wants to use their talents in a professional situation in the U.S.

There are various classifications of non-immigrant visas for a person wishing to work temporarily in the United States.  Under U.S immigration laws if you want to work or perform in the U.S. temporarily, you need a specific visa based on the purpose of your travel and type of work you will be doing.

By far the most common visa category that Trinbagonians apply for here is the B1/B2 visa that can be used for tourism or limited business activities but which generally does not allow the traveler to work while in the United States.

Performers, including athletes, actors, and musicians, who intend to perform in the U.S. – whether for pay or for free – usually need to apply for a performer visa with the classification of ‘P’ or ‘O’.  Even if you already have a valid tourist visa, you will likely need a performer visa to carry out these activities in the U.S.

The process of applying for a performer visa is more complex than for a tourist visa, and requires coordination with a sponsor in the United States. In order to obtain a temporary worker visa, your sponsor in the United States must first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  After the petition is approved by USCIS you can then proceed to the Embassy to apply for a visa. It is recommended to start the process as early as possible since the entire process may take a minimum of 4 months to complete, from the filing of the petition, to the receipt of the visa.

If you have questions about the proper visa classification and the types of activities you can perform on each category of visa, visit travel.state.gov. Travelers may visit our website at tt.usembassy.gov for information on the application process.  Specific inquiries can be sent via email to consularpos@state.gov.