Sponsoring a P-3 Artist

Step 1: UH agreement
Step 2: Determine P-3 eligibility
Step 3: Prepare P-3 request
Step 4: FSIS processing & union consultation
Step 5: USCIS processing
Step 6: Apply for P-3 entry (artist is outside the U.S.)


Step 1: UH agreement

UH may sponsor an artist or performing group for a culturally unique program after a UH department has entered into an agreement with the performer(s). Once a job offer has been accepted or a contract for a performance or production has been established, the department must determine whether all individuals are eligible to work in the U.S. If any person does not already have employment authorization for the UH job, proper authorization will need to be secured before employment can begin. The P-3 classification may be an option for work authorization if the initial eligibility requirements are met.

As long as the performance, production, or job will be hosted or offered by UH, FSIS can assist with preparing a P-3 petition for the artist/group. However, if the performances/exhibits will take place at several different sites across the U.S. and for various employers, the artist/group must obtain the services of an agent to file the additional P-3 petitions on their behalf.

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Step 2: Determine P-3 eligibility

To qualify for P-3 classification, UH must prove the artist/group will take part in a “culturally unique” program. This means the purpose of the visit to UH must be to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. After arriving at UH, the individual(s) may only participate in cultural events that will further the understanding or development of the specific art form. The events may be of a commercial or noncommercial nature.

Essential support personnel

Essential support personnel who are an integral part of the performance of a P-3 artist or entertainer and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker, are eligible for P-3S classification. Support personnel may include lighting designers, choreographers, directors, or others who are essential to creating a culturally unique program or production.

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Step 3: Prepare P-3 request

After the UH department determines that P-3 classification is appropriate, the P-3 request process may begin. All types of P-3 requests must be submitted to FSIS no later than two months prior to the requested P-3 start date. Submission of a late request may result in a P-3 beneficiary’s inability to start participating in the event on time or even the loss of legal immigration status in the U.S. Please note:

  • USCIS must accept a P-3 petition by the business day on or before the employee’s current status end date.
  • If P-3S essential support personnel will accompany the artist/group, a separate petition must be filed.
  • UH can request up to one year on an initial P-3 petition and up to one year on subsequent extensions.
  • UH can submit a petition to USCIS up to one year prior to the start date of the event or employment.
  • Consult with FSIS if an artist/group member is:
    • Planning to travel abroad while the P-3 petition is pending; or
    • An F-1 student whose F-1 status will end more than 60 days prior to the intended P-3 start date; or
    • A J-1 exchange visitor whose program will end more than 30 days prior to the intended P-3 start date; or
    • Still subject to the two-year residence requirement after being in J-1 or J-2 status. UH can’t file a P-3 in-country change of status petition in this case, so after the P-3 petition is approved, the beneficiary must exit the U.S. and follow the P-3 entry procedures.
  • Ask about family members who may require P-4 change of statuses or extensions; if needed, include their documents in the P-3 request packet.

P-3 request process

UH colleges, schools, departments, and units should follow each step below to complete and submit P-3 requests to FSIS.

1 The UH department initiates the P-3 request.

The UH department should work with the P-3 beneficiary (or group representative, if the petition will be for a performing group) to obtain necessary information and documentation for the P-3 request packet. The department should complete/gather its portion of the documents listed on the P-3 Request Form. If a P-3S petition will also be filed for essential support personnel, be sure to include those documents as well.

If any document is not written in English, provide a translation and a translator’s certification.

2 The HR specialist reviews the P-3 request and attaches documents.

The UH department should forward its portion of the P-3 request packet to the Human Resources specialist for the college/school/unit. The HR specialist reviews these documents and attaches any additional documents.

The HR specialist should send the complete request packet to FSIS, Attn: Isis, PSB 102-106.

2 FSIS emails the P-3 petition filing fee amounts and USCIS mailing address options to the HR specialist.

The college/school/department (as appropriate) should request the filing fee checks, indicating that the checks be returned to the unit. The unit should hand-deliver the checks and one of the following mailing materials to FSIS as soon as possible:

  • Pre-paid FedEx mailing label;
  • Pre-paid USPS Priority Mail mailing label; or
  • 2 mail bar code labels for mailing by USPS Certified Mail (Manoa units only).

Note: The P-3 artist/group may pay for the filing fees and/or for mailing.

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Step 4: FSIS processing & union consultation

Once FSIS receives the request from the HR specialist, we will review it and complete the following as long as all initial requirements are met:

  • Prepare USCIS Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker;
  • Prepare a cover letter for the P-3 (and P-3S, if applicable) petition(s);
  • Prepare USCIS Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service (if requested); and
  • Review Form I-539 for any P-4 dependents (if applicable).

Union consultation

Upon completion, FSIS will send the HR specialist a copy of Form I-129 so the department can request a written consultation from an appropriate union or labor organization for the given occupation. For instance, if the artist is a dancer, the department may request a written consultation from the American Guild of Musical Artists. The department will need to obtain a separate letter from an appropriate labor organization if a petition will also be filed for P-3S essential support personnel. The letter(s) from the union(s) should be sent to FSIS so they can be included in the petition(s).

After receiving the union consultation(s), filing fee checks, and mailing label/bar codes, FSIS will mail the petition with the fees to USCIS. FSIS will file-drop a copy of the petition to the HR specialist and to the artist/group representative.


Step 5: USCIS processing

Once the UH department mails the P-3 petition, USCIS will conduct an initial review to ensure the petition is being timely filed with the appropriate fee. If USCIS determines the petition has been properly filed, it will mail a receipt notice to FSIS. Please note the following regarding the different types of P-3 petitions:

Petition type UH employment/Event International travel
Change of P-3 employer Event/employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition. See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.
Concurrent P-3 employment Event/employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition. See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.
P-3 amendment Changes to event/employment may take place after USCIS approves the petition. See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.
P-3 change of status Event/employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition. Employment/event participation may begin prior to approval if the beneficiary has another type of valid work authorization. See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.
P-3 extension Event/employment in the same position and under the same terms may continue for up to 240 days, provided the petition was timely filed, until USCIS renders a decision on the petition. See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.

USCIS adjudication

Under regular processing, USCIS generally takes 1-3 months to adjudicate petitions.

If premium processing service is requested, USCIS will act on the petition within 15 calendar days. (“Act on” = approve, deny, request further evidence, or notify of intent to deny.) USCIS offers this service for an additional fee.

While the petition is pending, departments can check its status using the receipt number and view average processing times on USCIS’s case status website.

If the petition is approved, USCIS will mail a P-3 approval notice (Form I-797A or I-797B Notice of Action) to FSIS. FSIS will send the following documents to the HR specialist for distribution:

  • Memo to the artist/group and
  • Original approval notice for the artist/group.

P-3 status should automatically begin/continue upon the approval notice’s start date. The artist/group should not need to leave the U.S. and reenter to begin/continue P-3 employment unless a Form I-797B has been issued. If an I-797B is issued, they must follow the P-3 entry procedures to begin P-3 employment/event participation.

Cancellation of employment/event

If the event/employment is cancelled for any reason, the department/HR specialist must notify Isis immediately so we can withdraw the petition.

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Step 6: Apply for P-3 entry

After the sponsoring unit sends the P-3 artist the approval notice and other documents, the artist/each group member should follow the steps below to apply for a P-3 visa and P-3 admission to the U.S. The same procedures apply to P-3S essential support personnel.

1 Apply for a P-3 visa.

Canadian citizens can skip this step and proceed to “2. Apply for P-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry” below. Individuals who already have P-3 visas that will be valid on the date they arrive in the U.S. do not need to apply for new ones and may also proceed to “2. Apply for P-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry” below.

To apply for a P-3 visa, the artist should visit the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. embassies and consulates website to view the visa application requirements and to make an appointment for a visa interview. Individuals should try to apply at the U.S. embassy/consulate having jurisdiction over their place of residence, though they may apply at any U.S. embassies/consulates worldwide that permit third country nationals’ applications. Anyone who was ever a visa overstay in the U.S. must apply for the visa at a consular office in their country of nationality.

P-3 visa application requirements differ by embassy/consulate, so the artist/group members should check directly with the specific U.S. embassy/consulate on the requirements for the visa application if there are any questions.

Generally, all P-3 visa applications must include the following:

  • DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page;
  • Visa interview appointment confirmation page;
  • Proof of payment of visa fees;
  • A passport-style photograph that meets DOS’s nonimmigrant visa photo requirements;
  • Valid P-3 approval notice;
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the approval notice’s end date;
  • UH contract documentation; and
  • Any other documents required by the specific U.S. embassy or consulate.

If an artist/group member has any family members who will come to the U.S. as dependents, they should follow the P-4 entry procedures.

2 Apply for P-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Next, the artist/group may apply for P-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry up to 10 days prior to the start date on the approval notice. They should bring the following items to the port of entry:

  • Valid P-3 approval notice;
  • Valid P-3 visa in passport (N/A for Canadians);
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the approval notice’s end date (if the passport will expire before the end date, a shorter period of stay than the notice’s validity may be granted, so it is best to renew the passport before entry); and
  • UH contract documentation.

Also present P-4 admission documents for any accompanying family members.

Individuals are not guaranteed entry to the U.S. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry will review all documents and ask the person about the purpose of the visit. These officers have the discretion to admit a person in P-3 status and any family members in P-4 status and may refer them to a more detailed secondary inspection.

When the P-3 artist is admitted into the U.S., all documents should be returned and an admission date stamp should be placed in their passport with the notations “P-3” (artist/group member) or “P-4” (dependents) and a date indicating the period of authorized stay in the U.S. The CBP officer should instruct each person to access and print an I-94 arrival record on CBP’s I-94 website. The admission stamp with notations and the I-94 printout are proof of admission to and legal immigration status in the U.S. In some cases, a person may be issued a paper I-94 card at entry, but CBP is phasing those out. If anyone is issued a paper I-94, that card is evidence of legal status in the U.S.

P-3 artists and P-4 family members should keep copies of their passport biodata/expiration pages, visas, admission stamps, and I-94 records permanently in case any of these documents are lost or stolen.

3 Send copies of entry documents to FSIS.

After the P-3 artist(s) is/are admitted into the U.S., send Isis the following documents so we can update our records and check each person’s admission:

  • Copy of I-94 from CBP’s I-94 website;
  • Copy of admission stamp with notations in passport;
  • Copy of P-3 visa in passport;
  • Copy of passport biodata page (if new/renewed); and
  • Copies of the I-94, visa, and passport biodata page for each P-4 dependent (if applicable).

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