There are 2 main types of visas available to artists, entertainers and athletes. One is the "P" visa which was discussed in my article last week. The other is the "O" visa.
As a recap, the "P" visa is for internationally recognized performers/athletes that are traveling to the United States to perform in a concert series or other type of competition. The performance can be for as an individual or as part of a larger internationally recognized group.
So to with the "O". In my opinion, the main difference between the two types of visas, especially within the Filipino community, is just how qualified someone is. How famous. How well known. And, while most of the entertainment related visas in the community are "P" visas, simply because of artists coming to perform in concert series, you may find a bit of information about the "O" to be interesting at the very least.
The O visa category is reserved for foreign nationals of "extraordinary" ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics. Like the "P" visa, O non-immigrants are entitled to have their essential support personnel and family travel with them as their derivatives.
Different standards of proof-documents required-apply to the different categories. For example, one attempting to enter the United States as an individual artist is subject to a different standard than a scientist. Since most of our present O visa pertain to members of the entertainment industry, this article will address the requirements of artists and entertainers, not scientists and athletes.
In order for the foreign national to qualify as an alien of extraordinary ability in the arts, the government requires proof of "distinction". Distinction in the visa context is defined as a "high level of achievement in the field of arts as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person is described as prominent, leading, or well-known in the field." For example, Nora Aunor qualifies.
So how to prove distinction? The applicable code of federal regulations requires evidence that the person at issue has been nominated for or received significant national or international awards in their field of endeavor. Additionally, at least 3 of the following must be shown: (1) the alien has or will perform in a lead or starring role in a major event of distinguished reputation; (2) has achieved national or international recognition for his achievements as evidenced by critical and objective reviews; (3) past performances as a lead or star in events of distinguished reputation; (4) record of major commercial successes as evidenced by ticket sales, sponsors and other re-numeration; (5) has or now commands a high salary; (6) receipt of significant recognition from experts in the field.
Perhaps you are an entertainer yourself or promote entertainers? Perhaps your friend is an artist. Perhaps you are a promoter or know of a promoter. In any event, artists are better served if the people around them know what's going on so your friends and clients are not getting gouged with legal . Now you do.