Entertainers

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Overview

The U.S. Embassy in Riga issues a significant number of visas for Latvian artists and entertainers every year.

We value cultural exchange between Latvia and the United States. U.S. immigration law includes special visa classes for members of the entertainment profession1, separate from a business/tourism (B-1/B-2) visa and the Visa Waiver Program. In most cases, professional artists and entertainers intending to perform in the United States must enter the country using a P, H, or O visa. These are petition-based visas, meaning a U.S. agent or inviting entity must file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the performer or entertainer. We encourage you to review the information below and on our website, www.travel.state.gov. By entering the country with the correct visa, you help to ensure your continued ability to travel to the United States for both your professional activities and tourism.

Should you have any questions, you may always contact the embassy’s Consular Section at support-riga@ustraveldocs.com or at 6710-7000.

FAQ’s

I have a regular day job in Latvia, but I also perform. Am I considered a professional artist or entertainer for U.S. visa purposes?

If you are typically compensated for your performances (concerts, plays, films, etc.), you are considered a professional entertainer under U.S. immigration law. A professional artist or entertainer generally cannot qualify for a B visa or travel under the Visa Waiver Program to carry out their professional activities in the United States, even if they agree to perform without compensation.

An amateur is someone who is not a member of the profession and who normally performs without pay. Amateur entertainers may travel to the United States using a B2 (tourist) visa if the following conditions are met:

  • They will receive no payment to perform other than reimbursement of their travel expenses;
  • They will perform in a social and/or charitable context or as competitors in a talent show, contest or athletic event.

Are there any exceptions when a professional entertainer can perform at a concert or other event if travelling to the United States on a B1 (business) visa or under the Visa Waiver Program?

Generally a professional artist or entertainer cannot qualify for a B visa or travel under the Visa Waiver Program to carry out their professional activities in the United States, even if they agree to perform without compensation. However, in limited circumstances a professional may qualify for a B visa to participate in a cultural program or in a competition.

All following conditions must be met to qualify for a B-1 visa for participation in a cultural program:

  • You are coming to the United States to participate only in a cultural program sponsored by the sending country, Latvia;
  • All performances will be before a non-paying audience; and
  • All expenses, including per diem, will be paid by the sponsoring government, Latvia.

The following conditions must be met to qualify for a B-1 visa for participation in a competition:

  • To qualify for a B-1 visa for participation in a competition, the competition must offer no remuneration other than a prize (monetary or otherwise) and expenses or the competition must be an international competition that involves a foreign-based team of professionals playing an exhibition in the United States.
What if I will not be paid for my performance? What if there is no ticket charge? Can I use my B1/B2 visa if I am considered a professional entertainer?

Except for the circumstances listed above, B visa status is not appropriate for a professional performer or their accompanying personnel who seek to enter the United States temporarily to perform. In most cases, a work-authorized visa classification will be required, regardless of the amount or source of compensation, whether the services will involve public appearance(s) or a non-paying audience, or whether the performance is for charity.

Can I record an album in the United States when traveling on a B1 visa or using the Visa Waiver Program?

Maybe. Musicians may qualify for a B-1 visa if the following conditions are met:

  • You are coming to the United States in order to utilize recording facilities for recording purposes only;
  • The recording will be distributed and sold only outside the United States; and
  • No public performances will be given.
How do I get a P, H, or O visa?

P, H, and O visas are all petition-based temporary worker visa classifications. There is a two-step process you must follow to apply for such petition-based nonimmigrant visas. You will find additional information on the application process for P, H, and O visas on our website at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/employment/temporary.html

TIP! Applying for a visa can help reduce the possibility that admission under the Visa Waiver program will be denied at the port of entry based on purpose of travel.

1Members of the entertainment profession include actors, musicians, singers and dancers, as well as the accompanying personnel such as managers, electricians, technicians, make-up artists, and film crew members coming to the United States to produce films, etc. Photographers, sculptors, painters and others in the fine arts should review separate regulations governing these activities.