In order to enhance cultural diversity in the US, the American immigration authorities initiated a cultural exchange program a few years back to enable both inflow and outflow of artists and entertainers under a specific visa P-2 which allows any foreign artists or a group of artists to enter America in exchange with any individual or an organization going to that specific country for the same purposes.
Thus, the P-2 visa is supported by a sort of official cultural exchange program or in other words you may call it Track Two Diplomacy.
The criteria to qualify for this visa type is that you should be a high-profile and well-recognized individual or a member of some internationally acknowledged arts company. The purpose of your arrival to the US must be participation or performance in some sort of cultural events. You must be as capable in terms of artistic skills and achievements as your American counterparts who are going to perform in your country.
Same like P-1 visa, a US labor organization or an employer needs to file visa petition with the USCIS by filling Form I-129 and providing all other supporting documents which include the following:
- Written consultation from a labor organization.
- Copy of the reciprocal contract agreement signed between the sponsoring US organization and the foreign organization.
- Evidence of the statement which shows that the terms and conditions of the reciprocal exchange agreement are similar for both the parties.
Once the petition is accepted by the USCIS, the beneficiary should apply for the visa in his/her local US consulate by paying he fees and other charges established by the US State Department.
The initial period of stay for the P-2 visa holders is the time of completion of the specific events or competitions they are coming for and this time should not exceed one year. However, the validity period can be extended up to one year provided the events are not over yet.
If the petitioner is an agent, who is applying on behalf of multiple employers, he must prove that he is fully authorized to do so.
A beneficiary, after reaching the US, can change his/her employer provided the employer fills the Form I-129 and requests extension in the visa validity.
The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can accompany the beneficiary by gaining the P-4 status. They cannot be engaged in any sort of employment, however, they can do their studies in any of the American academic institute.
The supporting personnel of a beneficiary including coaches, scouts, trainers and other team officials and referees can also be eligible for the P-1 status provided the beneficiary proves that his/her supporting tasks cannot be done by any US worker. The US petition will have to fill a separate Form I-129 and enclose the supporting documents with it.
The P-2 visa is purely based on reciprocal exchange system which means that American and other countries should exchange their cultural groups to build cultural diversity and enhance people to people democracy. So, this is a two way process. A foreign artist can only be eligible for this visa if his/her own country is inviting any US artist to come and perform. Same is the case with group of artists or art organizations.
Another important condition is that the deal between two cultural groups or organizations must be official and both the governments should endorse this. Moreover, both the groups and artists of both the sides should be of international level and they must have some remarkable achievements at their credit.
So, the P-2 visa holds great importance at international level. A number of the internationally recognized cultural groups have enjoyed this visa so far and many more in the cue.
If you are an individual artist or you are a group and you have some outstanding marks at your portfolio, you should contact some of your US counterparts and get in a contract to become eligible for the P-2 visa, and if you are not an extraordinary artist to qualify for the visa, you must make strenuous efforts to uplift yourself to that level, because, this is not the opportunity to miss.