Can I perform in the United States on a tourist visa? | Letters to the Editor


Question:

I am a local artist invited to perform at the Miami Carnival celebrations in October 2022. I heard appointments are only available in 2023. Will I be able to get an expedited visa? Can I use my B1/B2 visa to perform?

Answer:

Congratulations on being invited to showcase your talent in Miami. Artists from around the world, including Trinidad and Tobago, must travel to the United States on artists’ and performers’ visas known as “O” and “P” work visas. These visa categories require an I-797 application form to work, perform, and receive income in the United States.

For example, Trinbagonian artists must have a valid O or P work visa to perform at the Miami Carnival, to DJ at restaurants or bars, or to tour promoting new music, even if those performances are do without pay. Playing for free is still considered successful and requires an O or P visa.

Petitions are filed through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the petition is approved, the petitioner will receive a Notice of Approval. After receiving the Notice of Approval, an applicant can apply for the relevant nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy.

For detailed information on the nonimmigrant visa application process, please visit http://trinidadandtobago.usvisa-info.com.

Nonimmigrant visa applicants must complete the electronic application form DS-160, register for the online service, pay the application fee in person at a local Scotiabank, schedule an appointment, and attend a visa interview .

There is no online payment option for submitting the application fee. Applicants are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the information on Form DS-160. Be careful with personal and banking information and beware of potential scammers.

A visa applicant can submit an expedited appointment request if the chosen interview date falls after the proposed travel date. These requests must be submitted through the online candidate profile. Do not email or call contacts or the Embassy for expedited applications as this will only delay the applicant’s case.

Although the Consular Section may approve a request for an expedited appointment, visa processing cannot be expedited. If a visa is approved, passports are returned within seven to ten business days via DHL.

“B1/B2” nonimmigrant visas are generally issued for tourist purposes. In very limited cases, artists can use the tourist or B1/B2 visa to participate in cultural programs fully sponsored by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and for non-paying audiences. These situations are extremely rare and will be brought to the applicant’s attention. Do not perform in the United States on a B1/B2 visa without express permission.

The Consular Section takes this opportunity to remind potential applicants that it is prohibited to work with a B1/B2 visa in the United States. The repercussions include revocation of existing visas and future visa denials.

As a reminder, cell phones and other electronic devices, bags and liquids are not allowed in the consular waiting area. These items must be secured elsewhere prior to the applicant’s arrival as Embassy staff do not have the capacity to store prohibited items.

• For more information on the nonimmigrant visa application process, please visit trinidadandtobago.usvisa-info.com.

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