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Visa requirements for artist groups crossing the Canada-US border

Unlike individual artists or entertainers who need O1 Visas to enter the United States from British Columbia or another Canadian province, internationally recognized groups must obtain P1 visas. That is if the members are Canadian residents or citizens of other countries. Strict adherence to the requirements of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is essential. 

Who is eligible?

The following are requirements for a group to obtain P1 Visas: 

  • The applicants must be members of an internationally recognized group. 
  • Qualification requires 75% or more of the members to have had continuous, substantial relationships of no less than one year with the group. 
  • An exception to the one-year rule is circus artists who enter the United States and join a recognized U.S. circus. 
  • Immigration services will consider the achievements of the group and not individual members. 

Support personnel who play essential roles as integral parts of the group’s performance may also qualify for P1 visas. However, that only applies to services not readily available among U.S. workers. 

The process

Obtaining a P1 entertainer or artist visa requires the U.S. agent or employer of the performing group to file the P1 petition with the office of the USCIS. The application must be accompanied by a contract between the group and an employer or agent and an events itinerary. Additionally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office requires consultation or a statement whereby the appropriate labour organization documents previous frequent performances for at least one year. 

Upon the approval of the petition, the group members may proceed with applications for the P1 visa. They can apply at an appropriate U.S. Consulate or Embassy in British Columbia or elsewhere.