P1B Visa for Members of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups

p1b visa


P1B Visa — Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group

The P visa category is a nonimmigrant work visa [see category] category for: internationally recognized athletes (P1A) [see article]; members of an internationally recognized entertainment group (P1B); individual performers or performers as part of a group entering to perform under a reciprocal exchange program (P2) [see article]; or an artist or entertainer coming to be part of a culturally unique program (P3) [see article]. The spouse and unmarried minor children of principal P visa holders are eligible for P4 visas. This article will discuss the rules and regulations regarding the P1B category for a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group.

P1B Visa Statue

The P1B visa is for members of internationally recognized entertainment groups. P1B status for members of an internationally recognized entertainment group is authorized in statute by section 101(a)(15)(P)(i)(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The statute requires that the applicant have a foreign residence which he or she has no intention of abandoning.1

Section 214(c)(4)(B)(i) of the INA defines an alien who would qualify for P1B status:

I. Performs with or is an integral and essential part of the performance of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as being outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time,
II. In the case of a performer or entertainer, has had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (ordinarily for at least one year) and provides functions integral to the performance of the group, and
III. Seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purposes of performing as such a performer or entertainer or as an integral part of a performance.

The statute contains limited exceptions from sub-clauses I and II. The requirement that a qualifying group “has been recognized internationally as being outstanding …” may be waived in consideration of “special circumstances.”2 The one-year relationship requirement shall only apply to 75 percent of the performers and entertainers in a qualifying group.3 The one-year requirement may also be waived if, due to illness or unexpected and exigent circumstances, a member who does not meet the requirement replaces an essential member of the group and augments the group by performing a critical role.4

Furthermore, the statute contains special considerations for circus groups. None of the provisions that we described from section 214(c)(4)(B) apply to alien circus personnel who perform as part of a circus or circus group or who constitute an essential part of the circus or circus group. However, the alien must be applying to enter the United States to join a circus that has been recognized nationally as outstanding for a sustained and substantial period of time, or as part of a nationally recognized circus group.5

Implementing the Statute: P1B Visa Regulations

The major regulations for all of the P visa categories are found in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(p) [PDF version].

Like the P1A category, the P1B category does not permit self-petitioning. A P1B petition for a member of an entertainment group must be filed by a U.S. employer, U.S. sponsoring organization, U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.6

A sponsoring organization may act as petitioner if it is an established U.S. organization that will not directly employ the P1B beneficiary, but will assume responsibility for the petition.7

When the petitioner is a U.S. agent, he or she must be in business as an agent, submit a complete itinerary of services and engagements for the P beneficiary or beneficiaries, submit the contracts between the employer(s) and beneficiary or beneficiaries, and explain the terms and conditions of the employment.8

In all cases, the petitioner is required to submit written contracts (or if no contracts, oral agreements) with the beneficiary or beneficiaries and an explanation of the proposed activities that the beneficiary or beneficiaries will engage in while on P1B status.9

A petition for P1B status is filed on the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The evidence submitted with the petition must demonstrate that the P1B entertainer(s) are coming to the United States to perform in specific productions or events with the internationally recognized entertainment group.

The petitioner must also include a consultation from the appropriate labor organization. The consultation must attest to the beneficiary's or beneficiaries' qualifications and that the proposed events are appropriate for a P1B group.10 The consultation requirement may be waived if no appropriate consultation group exists.11

Regulations found in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(B) explain the evidence that a Form I-129 for a P1B beneficiary or for multiple P1B beneficiaries must be accompanied by:

  1. Evidence that the group has been established and performing regularly for a period of at least 1 year;
  2. A statement from the petitioner listing each member of the group and the exact dates for which each member has been employed on a regular basis by the group; and
  3. Evidence that the group has been internationally recognized in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. This may be demonstrated by the submission of evidence of the group's nomination or receipt of significant international awards or prices for outstanding achievement in its field or by three of the following different types of documentation:
    • i. Evidence that the group has performed, and will perform, as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
    • ii. Evidence that the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other published material;
    • iii. Evidence that the group has performed, and will perform, services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
    • iv. Evidence that the group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by such indicators as ratings; standing in the field; box office receipts; record, cassette, or video sales; and other achievements in the field as reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
    • v. Evidence that the group has achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field. Such testimonials must be in a form that clearly indicates the author's authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien's achievements; or
    • vi. Evidence that the group has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to other similarly situated in the field as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a Policy Memorandum in 2011 [PDF version] which clarified that a U.S. based group may qualify as an “internationally recognized” group for purpose of qualifying one of its members for P1B status.12

The regulations include the exceptions that we discussed in the section about the statute. The 1-year group membership requirements and international recognition requirements are inapplicable to applications for alien circus personnel.13

A discretionary waiver from the international recognition requirement may be granted to an entertainment group that has achieved national recognition for a sustained period of time. The regulations state that an exception may be granted for a group that cannot demonstrate international recognition on account of limited access to news media or for geographical reasons.14

The regulations also include the exemption from the 1-year relationship requirement (where it would otherwise be applicable) for substitutions based on unanticipated or exigent circumstances. The Department of State (DOS) is authorized to waive the requirement at a consular office in the case of such a substitution.15

More than one P1B beneficiary from the same group may be included on a single Form I-129.16

A petitioner may appeal a denied petition.17

Essential Support Personnel

An alien may be approved for P1S classification as an essential support alien if he or she has a qualifying support relationship with a P1B entertainment group and is seeking entry in order to perform critical services for the group that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker. According to the USCIS website [PDF version], this may include aliens who are front office personnel, camera operators, lighting technicians, and stage personnel (not necessarily exhaustive).18 A petition for P1S support personnel must be filed separately from the petition for P1B entertainers.

The following evidence is required to support a petition for P1S support personnel:

1. A consultation from a labor organization with expertise in the area of the alien's skill;
2. A statement describing the alien(s) prior essentiality, critical skills, and experience with the principal alien(s); and
3. A copy of the written contract or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement between the alien(s) and the employer.

If there is no appropriate labor organization to provide a consultation, USCIS will render a decision based solely upon the evidence in the record.19 An essential support alien may only be approved of the entertainment group contains at least one P1B beneficiary.20

Unlike P1B entertainers, essential support personnel may not be substituted.

Dual Intent Permitted

Having an approved labor certification does not necessitate the rejection of a petition for P1 status for a P1B entertainer. The same applies for petitions for extensions of stay. However, this does not apply to P1S essential support personnel.21

P4 Dependents

The spouse and unmarried child(ren) of a principal P1 beneficiary may obtain a P4 visa. A P4 beneficiary is ineligible for employment without obtaining employment authorization.22

Approval of a P1B Petition and Extensions of Stay

If the petitioner has a substitute P1B beneficiary approved at the consulate, the petitioner will need to obtain a new Form I-129 for the substitute beneficiary at the point of entry in order to substitute a new member on P1B status.

A P1B beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for the length it will take to complete the events he or she was approved to participate in, but not for a period in excess 1 year.23 Essential support personnel may be admitted for the time it will take to complete the events, but not for a period in excess of 1 year.

Before the validity of the approved Form I-129 expires, the petitioner may apply for an extension of stay on behalf of the P1B beneficiaries in order to continue in the same event that they were admitted for. P1S beneficiaries are also eligible for extensions. Extensions may be granted in increments not exceeding 1 year.24 While the beneficiary must be physically present in the United States when the extension petition is filed, he or she may travel while the petition is pending.25 No supporting documents are required for an extension request except those that are requested by USCIS. If a petition for an extension of stay is denied, there are no grounds for appeal.26

Derivative P4 beneficiaries are eligible for P4 status so long as the principal is still on status.

Amended Petitions

If there is a significant change in the terms of employment of a P1 beneficiary, the petitioner must file an amended petition.27

USCIS may decide to revoke a petition at any time (for example, if it finds that the facts in the petition were incorrect or that the petitioner violated the terms or other requirements of P status), in which event the petitioner has 30 days to challenge the revocation.28


If a strike or work stoppage involving a labor dispute (certified by the Department of Labor) occurs during the pendency of an I-129 petition for a P1B entertainer, the petition will be denied. If the petition has already been approved by the P1B entertainer has not yet entered the United States, the petition will be suspended and the P1B entertainer will be ineligible to enter the United States on the basis of the suspended petition.29 If the P1B entertainer has already commenced employment, he or she will not be deemed to be failing to maintain status during the pendency of the work stoppage on account of the work stoppage. However, P1B beneficiaries will still be responsible for otherwise maintaining status, which includes not engaging in unauthorized employment.30

Conclusion — P1B Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group

The P1B visa is a useful immigration option for allowing members of internationally recognized entertainment groups to perform in the United States with the internationally recognized entertainment group.

However, it is important to remember the limitations of the P1B category. It is strictly a visa for performing in certain events, and while extensions are available to continue in an event, it is not a permanent or necessarily long-term immigration solution. Furthermore, the P1B visa is unavailable to entertainers who are not part of an internationally recognized group. Although it has more extensive requirements for qualification, the O nonimmigrant visa category [see article] may be an option for individual entertainers who can meet the substantial eligibility requirements.

Petitioners seeking to bring members of an internationally recognized entertainment group to the United States on P1B status should consult with an experienced immigration attorney throughout the petitioning process.


  1. INA § 101(a)(15)(P)
  2. INA § 214(c)(4)(B)(ii)
  3. INA § 214(c)(4)(B)(iii)(I)
  4. INA § 214(c)(4)(B)(iii)(II)
  5. INA § 214(c)(4)(B)(iv)
  6. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(2)(i)
  7. 8 C.F.R. 214.2(p)(2)(E)(1)-(3); Memo, Neufeld, Acting Accoc. Dir. Domestic Operations, HQ 70/6.2.18, HQ 70/6.2.19 (Nov. 20, 2009)
  8. Id.
  9. 8 C.F.R. §§ 214.2(p)(2)(ii)(A)-(D)
  10. 8 C.F.R. §§ 214.2(p)(4)(iv)(A)-(B)
  11. 8 C.F.R. 214.2(p)(7)(F)
  12. Policy Memo, Clarifying Guidance on Definition of Internationally Recognized for the P-1 Classification, PM-602-0053 (Dec. 31, 2011); AFM 33.5(a)
  13. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(C)(1)
  14. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(C)(2)
  15. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(C)(3)
  16. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(2)(iv)(F)
  17. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(2)(iv)(C)(2)
  18. “P-1B A Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group,” USCIS, July 7, 2015
  19. 8 C.F.R. 214.2(p)(7)(F)
  20. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(3)
  21. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(15)
  22. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(i)(iii)(D)
  23. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(8)(iii)(B)
  24. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(14)(ii)(B)
  25. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(14)(i)
  26. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(2)(iv)(C)(2)
  27. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(10)(i)
  28. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(10)(iii)
  29. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(16)(i)
  30. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(16)(iii)

Resources and Materials:

Kurzban, Ira J. Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool. 14th ed. Washington D.C.: ALIA Publications, 2014. 991-96, Print. Treatises & Primers.

“P-1B A Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group,” USCIS, July 7, 2015, available at http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/p-1b-member-internationally-recognized-entertainment-group/p-1b-member-internationally-recognized-entertainment-group [PDF version]