FAQ: artist mobility to the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated September 15, 2020, 5:21 PM EDT

 

Related FAQs: unemployment benefits for O and P visas holdersnew public charge rules

 

I heard Trump suspended visas. Does this affect me? 

President Trump has recently issued two presidential proclamations restricting the issuance of certain types of visas, but not O or P visas for artists.

The first proclamation, from April 22, suspends the issuance of immigrant visas (green cards) to individuals outside the U.S. There are several exceptions:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Children/foster children of U.S. citizen (or perspective adoptee IR-4 or IH-4 classification)
  • Anyone with immigrant visa as physician/nurse/other healthcare professional coming for COVID-19 mitigation purposes (to include spouse & unmarried children under 21)
  • Anyone applying for EB-5 immigrant visa
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces (and their spouses & children)
  • Anyone with a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classifications (to include spouse & children)
  • Those determined to be exempt by the CDC, those who help further U.S. law enforcement objectives, and anyone whose entry would be in the “national interest”

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.

The second proclamation, issued on June 22, 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. 

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
  • Lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents
  • Parents/legal guardians of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children (under 21 & unmarried)
  • Siblings of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children (if both under 21 & unmarried)
  • Children/foster children of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (or perspective adoptee IR-4 or IH-4 classification)
  • Anyone traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for COVID-19 mitigation purposes
  • Anyone entering in C-1, D or C-1/D status as crew members
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces (and their spouses & children)
  • Those seeking to enter the U.S. in any of the following classifications: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, or NATO-1, 2, 3, 4 & 6
  • Those determined to be exempt by the CDC, those who help further U.S. law enforcement objectives, and anyone whose entry would be in the “national interest”

Are U.S. embassies and consulates still closed?

Routine visa services remain suspended at many U.S. embassies and consulates, but some posts have resumed visa interviews. You should be able to find up-to-date information on the website of your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

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?

If your petition is still pending, you might be able to get the dates changed. If your petition has already been approved, the dates are fixed, unfortunately. To seek a new petition 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 engagements may be cancelled, discuss with your attorney about whether you should delay the filing of your petition or seek a longer visa duration.

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

Yes. There are 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. in the foreseeable future, 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.

Can I apply for unemployment benefits in the U.S.?

See our FAQ about unemployment benefits for O and P visa holders.