Nashville, also known as Music City, is home to recording studios, management companies, record companies, video production companies, performers, musicians, and song writers. Rose Immigration Law Firm clients stand at the forefront of this exciting industry. We pride ourselves for our creativity in accommodating the immigration needs of foreign performing artists, film directors, production personnel, and management. The firm’s principal partner, Linda Rose, and associate attorney Douglas Russo, are also musicians, which adds to our ability in representing artists and meeting their unique needs. Also, we are one of the law firms chosen by SXSW to assist foreign bands from all over the world. Our lawyers and staff speak Spanish and can easily assist bands from Latin America or any other country.
Accomplished Artists: The immigration laws provide a very specific non-immigrant (temporary) visa for “extraordinary” artists and their support personnel in the entertainment industry: the O-1 visa. Although being a Grammy Award winner is usually a hands-down qualifier, the artist can also qualify for O-1 based on other types of significant achievements and recognition. The O-1 can be granted initially for up to three years and extensions are permitted. This visa category also can serve as a stepping stone to permanent residence for artists of extraordinary ability (EB-1 classification).
International Bands and Their Musicians: Bands of international renown, having been featured and performed in more than one country, might qualify for P-1 status. While typically this visa covers foreign bands, it is also designed to cover individual foreign musicians who will join and tour with a U.S.-based band. This visa category is granted in one-year increments.
Special Status for Members of the CFM: The Canadian Federation of Musicians has an agreement with the U.S. counterpart, the American Federation of Musicians. This “reciprocal agreement” allows members of the CFM to seek P-2 status. Status is issued in a maximum of one-year increments, and requires a pre-arranged itinerary, although gig additions are allowed during the authorized period of P-2 status. For the artist who doesn’t quite qualify for the O-1 or P-1, both of which have a more stringent standard, the P-2 is a good option that can serve as a stepping stone to a longer-term visa status in the future.
Technical Personnel and Management: The immigration laws provide visas for technical personnel, such as sound engineers and production specialists, and for management in the entertainment industry. These individuals can often qualify for an H-1B visa if the individual has a college degree or its equivalent through experience, if the position is one that normally requires a degree, if there is a solid “employer-employee” relationship, and if the employer is paying the prevailing wage as required by the government. Because there are so many “ifs,” H-1B status is not always practical. This is especially true for independent contractors who may work on a royalty or per contract basis. When H-1B doesn’t work, NAFTA offers some excellent alternatives for technical and management personnel from Canada and Mexico.
Culturally Unique Visas: “Culturally unique” groups may qualify for P-3 visa status. This category requires evidence, in the form of expert letters and published reviews, that the group is culturally unique and is coming to the United States to perform for culturally unique events. Culturally unique includes a performance art form unique to a particular country, ethnicity, tribe, or other cultural subgroup. A traditional dance troupe from Bali is a good example of a culturally unique group that might qualify for a P-3 visa.
An alternative to the P-3 is the Q visa. This visa (once known as the “Disney visa”) was created to promote artistic cultural exchange. Artists who will demonstrate and teach their unique art form in public settings may qualify for Q visa status. The cultural exchange venue or program must be designed to exhibit or explain the customs, history, or traditions of the artist’s home country. An African musician who would perform at a cultural community center would be a good candidate for a Q visa.