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

Last updated March 26, 5:17 PM EDT

 

THE LATEST:

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.

USCIS Premium Processing Suspended: On March 20, USCIS announced that its Premium Processing expediting service would be temporarily suspended. This means that for now, all P and O petitions will be “Regular Processed.”

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

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

 

How long does USCIS Regular Processing take?

Currently between three and ten weeks, on average. However, there is no guaranteed time frame with Regular Processing, and in the current circumstances, variation is quite possible.

 

If I file my P or O visa petition with USCIS Regular Processing now, can I upgrade to expedited service once Premium Processing resumes?

Yes, whenever that might be.

 

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, 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.

 

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 P or O 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 P and O 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, especially since USCIS’s Premium Processing expediting service is currently suspended.

 

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.