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O & P Categories Detailed + U.S.-Based Agency Filings + Information for Canadians
The O-1B category is for individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts.
The O-2 category is for personnel accompanying an O-1B individual.
The P-1B category is for internationally renowned performing groups and essential support personnel; and, for individual foreign artists performing as a member of a U.S.-based internationally renowned performing group.
The P-2 category is for artists & entertainers (individuals or groups) participating in a reciprocal exchange program.
The P-3 category is for culturally unique performers or groups, teachers and coaches.
There is a category as well for qualified support personnel and for the spouse and unmarried children under age 21 of an O or P visa holder. Spouses and unmarried children may qualify for O-3 or P-4 status respectively.
— To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.
We file this the necessary support from an appropriate labor organization along with a contract when appropriate. This avenue requires at least 2 of the following:
— To perform as an artist or entertainer individually or as part of a group, who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the U.S. and an organization in another country.
We file this with the necessary support from an appropriate labor organization along with:
— Permits members of a foreign-based entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. This person also must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (ordinarily for at least one year) and/or provide functions integral to the group's performance.
We file this with necessary support from an appropriate labor organization along with the performance history and necessary evidence of international recognition for outstanding achievement. We present the groups receipt of, or nomination for, significant international awards or prizes and recognition for outstanding achievement in the field.
— For highly skilled workers who are an essential and integral part of the competition or performance. Essential support personnel must perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and that are essential to the successful performance or services of the athlete or entertainer.
We file this with necessary support from an appropriate labor organization along with the working contract, summary of the employment terms, and details of the worker's prior and current essentiality, critical skills and experience.
The regulations state generally that an employer, sponsoring organization, agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent may file an I-129 petition.
The regulations, 8 CFR § 214.2(o)(2)(iv)(E), further state:
"A United States agent may file a petition in cases involving workers who are traditionally self-employed or workers who use agents to arrange short-term employment on their behalf with numerous employers, and in cases where a foreign employer authorizes the agent to act on its behalf. A United States agent may be: the actual employer of the beneficiary; the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary; or, a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as its agent."
Canadian citizens do not require O or P visas to enter the U.S., but do require approval from the USCIS. Canadian permanent residents (landed immigrants) DO require visas, as do all third-country nationals (those not from the U.S. or Canada) entering the U.S. from Canada. Canadian citizens need simply present themselves at a port of entry or pre-flight inspection location with proof that USCIS has approved their O or P classification.
If the petition has been approved, the computer system will contain a full record of that approval, but the best proof remains an I-797 Approval Notice. An alternative is a USCIS fax. As with consulates, however, for various reasons faxes do not always find their mark. As a precaution, we recommend carrying a full copy of the underlying petition. Otherwise, though, there are no applications as such or visa fees if visas are not required.
Note that all U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel can quickly access approval information once entered into the system, so it is inexcusable for a CBP inspector to refuse to admit an alien who does not require a visa simply because s/he lacks the original, or even a copy, of the I-797 approval notice because the inspector cannot find the fax or, worse yet, refuses to look for it.
Canadian nationals or permanent residents applying through land ports of entry receive I-94s only if they pay a $6 fee. If not, the CBP is supposed to stamp their passports with the entry date and classification in which admitted. It is then up to the alien to avoid staying beyond the authorized period of stay. In the present climate, Canadians should obtain some proof of the time, manner, and status awarded at time of admission. For this reason, we recommend paying the $6 fee or at least ensuring that CBP stamps the passport.