Get your P2 in 30 days, or its free! Sort of.

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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to improve the artist visa process. The legislation would require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to treat as a Premium Processing case, free of any additional charge, any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to process within 30 days. The 15 day premium processing would mean that no application would take longer than 45 days. Currently, processing can take months and premium processing comes at a cost of $1000.

The bill is called the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act (HR 1312 RFS), and it was passed in the House of Representatives April 1, 2008. The legislation still has to be approved by the U.S. Senate.

This bill has been quietly championed by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the American Arts Alliance, and similar not-for-profit arts organizations. These organizations deal primarily with "O1" and "P1" visas, for culturally unique and culturally excellent internationally recognized performers, and much of the writing that that I've found so far on this bill makes a point of mentioning "culturally unique artists."

So I'm wondering if local pop/rock/roots acts who are applying for a P2 visa to play club shows in the US will benefit from this act. Calls to the immigration departments of the AFM offices in Toronto and New York were met with a lack of awareness of this bill and what implications it might have for the "P2" visa process.

But after talking to the AFM and the US Department of Immigration, I'm optimistic that the legislation will include the P2 visa process and this is my reasoning.

First, you can read the text of the bill here:

The first important clause to note is that this act will apply to persons including:
an alien described in section 101(a)(15)(P)
You can read that section in the US Immigration and Nationality Act here: Scroll down to 101(a)(15)(P).

The part that refers to commercial music artists and bands falls under section P (II), as in the P2 visa, and reads:
an alien having a foreign residence which the alien has no intention of abandoning who performs as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, or is an integral part of the performance of such a group, and seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of performing as such an artist or entertainer or with such a group under a reciprocal exchange program which is between an organization or organizations in the United States and an organization or organizations in one or more foreign states and which provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers.
The next important clause is the bit that describes the petitioner as:
an arts organization described in paragraph (3), (5), or (6) of section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.
In the case of a P2, it is my understanding that the AFM is the petitioner.

You can read section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code here: Scroll down to section (c) (5), it reads:
Labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations.
The AFM is certainly a not-for-profit labour organization working in the arts.

So we will wait and see what happens with this legislation. It still needs to pass through the U.S. Senate and I understand that it has a better chance of easing through "without public fanfare."

Some more reading on this is available at:


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