Visa Stamping for P visas.
Just like all other visas, the P visa category requires a visa stamping. The visa stamping rules are pretty much the same for any type of US visa.
An interview at a local US consulate must be scheduled to get the visa stamped. When the time is limited, an interview may be scheduled as soon as a receipt number for the P1, P2 or P3 visa petition is available. There is no need to wait for approval but it is always safe to have an approval notice in hand. Our best immigration attorneys in Washington, DC recommend to have an interview scheduled several months before the entry date.
One of the main documents that must be available for the interview is a passport. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months. It has to be an original. If the visa is approved, the consulate will keep the passport and will hold it for visa stamping for a couple of days. We always advise our clients to factor this in while planning.
To schedule an appointment a DS-160 form must be prepared. This form must be prepared individually for each artist in the approved petition (if more than 1). The form will ask for basic information, such as address, dob, place of birth, travel plans, etc. There is a fee that has to be paid for each interview separately before the interview, which is $180. Once the fee is paid, the system will show the dates available for the interview and will allow choosing one. Please note that the fee can be paid using a US debit or credit card and the payment can be processed online. There is no requirement in the law as to who has to pay this fee (petitioner or beneficiary / entertainment company or artists). So, anybody can pay that fee.
As mentioned above, the interview may be scheduled before the petition is approved. However, we always warn our clients that if a Request for Evidence is issued, it will take longer for USCIS to adjudicate the case. We suggest that the musicians wait until the petition is approved.
Now, once the P visa petition is approved, do we need the original I-797 approval notice? Generally, yes. When going to an interview with a consulate office, it is always advisable to have only originals along with the copies. However, if there is no time between the approval notice issuance and the interview to ship the originals to a foreign country, it is possible to show up at a consulate with a copy only. If asked, an artist can always explain why there was no time to ship the original approval and the petitioner can request the consulate check their own records to make sure the petition is approved and the copy is legitimate.
A few words about the dependents: a P- visa artist is allowed to travel to the US along with his family. The immediate family members of the artists (spouse and children) can use the approved P visa classification to enter the U.S. However, a DS-160 form is required for each family member. The visa classification in this case will be P-4. Just like the main performer, a family member has to fill out DS-160 and appear for the interview. A family member will have to show proof that he is indeed a relative of the principal entertainer using the following documents: marriage certificate and a birth certificate, passport, copy of the principal artist’s I-797 approval notice and the principal visa, if issued.
Dependents of all 3 categories may use the P-4 visa category (P-1 visas, P-2 visas and P-3 visas).
Very often we are asked this question: can I get a visa stamped at a foreign US consulate or embassy, not in my home country because I have performances there. Yes and No. An interview may be scheduled and an applicant can appear for the interview there. However, a consulate officer may deny such case solely based on the fact that a foreign citizen is outside of the consulate’s jurisdiction. They understand that the artists (especially P1 visa artists) have busy schedules and travel a lot. But there is no guarantee. We have had success getting visas stamped in countries other than the artists’ home consulates; however, we recommend using home country consulates and embassies.
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