FAQ: Artist Mobility to the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated June 30, 3:34 PM EDT

 

THE LATEST:

New presidential proclamation:

On June 22, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation restricting certain types of temporary work visa classifications, but not O or P visas for artists. It halts the entry of H, L, and J nonimmigrants who are outside of the U.S. as of June 24 and don’t already have an H, L or J visa (or other valid travel document) through the end of 2020. It does not restrict applications to change to or extend any of these three visa classifications for people already in the U.S. Additionally, it appears that Canadians are exempt.

If you are looking to apply for one of these three classifications or are currently working on one of these classifications with us, please reach out to your attorney if you have questions.

USCIS resumes Premium Processing:

On May 29, USCIS announced that it will resume Premium Processing for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (including O and P petitions for performing artists), and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (for green cards), in phases over the next month. More information can be found here.

Brazil added to U.S. travel ban list:

On May 24, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation restricting travel from Brazil. The travel ban, which took effect on May 26, mirrors the current restrictions imposed on China, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Schengen countries; see “Which countries are affected by U.S. travel restrictions?” below.

Trump suspends issuing immigrant visas (green cards) to individuals outside the U.S.:

President Trump incited widespread panic on April 20, when he tweeted that he planned to suspend immigration to the U.S. He subsequently backed off from a broad plan that would have suspended the issuing of all visas and green cards indefinitely, and on April 22 he issued a presidential proclamation that suspends the issuing of immigrant visas (green cards)—not temporary visas—to individuals outside the U.S., with several exceptions.

Most visa services are currently suspended at all U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, so the proclamation has limited practical effect at this time. It does, however, explicitly provide for the possibility of its expansion and indefinite continuation.

Visa services suspended: On March 20, the U.S. Department of State announced that routine visa services would be temporarily suspended at all U.S. embassies and consulates. Unless your travel is truly urgent (e.g., humanitarian emergency), it’s unlikely that you will be able to get a U.S. visa at this time.

Unemployment benefits for O and P visa holders: See CoveyLaw’s FAQ about Unemployment Benefits for O and P Visa Holders

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

 

Which countries are affected by U.S. travel restrictions?

Individuals who were physically present in the following countries in the 14 days immediately prior to their arrival in the U.S. are barred from entering the U.S.: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

These travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the U.S. (green card holders).

 

Will I be able to travel?

Countries are closing borders and restricting travel, and many airlines are cancelling flights. So far, the quarantine rules do not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the U.S. We are endeavoring to stay abreast of this situation that is evolving by the hour and the public release of information if often delayed, so we cannot claim to have authoritative or comprehensive information. Please be prepared for unexpected changes, delays, or cancellations. 

 

My O or P visa petition has been filed or is already approved. Can I change the dates now that my travel has been rescheduled?

Unfortunately, probably not. Once a petition has been filed, the dates are fixed. To seek a new visa validity period, a new petition will need to be filed, unless USCIS changes its policies in light of the crisis. Your attorney will work with you to find the most viable and affordable strategies to accommodate your changing plans. 

 

My visa has been approved or issued. Can I change the dates now that my travel has been rescheduled?

Unfortunately, probably not. Once a visa has been issued, the dates are fixed. To seek a new visa validity period, you’ll have to apply for a new visa, unless the U.S. Department of State changes its policies in light of the crisis. Your attorney will work with you to find the most viable and affordable strategies to accommodate your changing plans. (If your visa was issued for a period of time that is shorter than the full duration of your approved petition, you should be able to seek another visa within the petition duration without filing a new petition. This may be the case with clients from countries against whom the U.S. enforces short visa durations.)

 

My petition has not been filed. Should I file it? If I file it and my tour is cancelled, what happens?

Once a petition is filed the government, union and legal fees are non-refundable. If you are concerned that your tour may be cancelled, discuss with your attorney about whether you should delay the filing of your petition or seek a longer duration.

 

I’m working on scheduling U.S. shows for later this year. Can I start the visa process now?

Yes. There are obviously a lot of unknowns at this point, but USCIS is still processing O and P visa petitions. If you are reasonably sure that you will be performing in the U.S. this year, we recommend starting on the visa process as soon as possible.

 

I am currently in the U.S. and can’t depart when initially planned. What should I do?

You can check how long you are allowed to remain in the U.S. on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website here. If you can’t—or don’t want to—depart the U.S. before your “admit until” date, you should seek legal advice regarding seeking an extension of stay or change of status.