documents we need from you

Once you have submitted the online forms, we will send you an email to confirm certain personnel information and sign our retainer agreement. Once you have confirmed that information and returned the retainer agreement, you will be issued an invoice, and your case manager will be back in touch with a list of documentation we will need to assemble your visa petition. So you know what’s coming, that list will look something like the list below…

Documents we need from you:

CoveyLaw Retainer: We will supply a retainer agreement that we will need you to sign. It will be provided after you complete our online forms.

Proof of Employment: Visas will only last as long as you can demonstrate that you have a contractual need to be in the U.S. “P” visas for groups can last for up to a year, and “O” visas for individuals can last for up to three years. However, it is important that you understand that these long durations are never automatic. To secure a visa, we need to satisfy USCIS’s request for contractual evidence to support your duration request. There are a couple of ways we can do this:

(a) Performance contracts: USCIS wants to see performance contracts (or deal memos or detailed invitations) that cover the full duration you’re seeking. These don’t have to cover every day of the period, but you do want to at least show a contract at the beginning and at the end of the duration and hopefully some in the middle. Performance contracts work best when they are signed by the promoter and by the artist or their representative.  IMPORTANT: DO NOT SEND FAKE CONTRACTS! USCIS telephones venues to check if contracts are real, and if a venue knows nothing about a show, your petition risks denial.

(b) A long-term contract with an “employer”: although labels and talent agents do not typically see themselves as “employers,” we may be able to use an artist’s long term contract with a label or agent to establish that the artist has a contractual need to be performing in the U.S. If the artist has a long-running contractual relationship with some entity, let us know and we can discuss the viability of basing the visa duration on that contract. A long term contract needs to be signed by both the artist and the contracting entity.

NEW REQUIREMENT: “Employer’s” Authorization: USCIS has recently published new information about their enforcement of statutes, and they have made it clear that in most cases the employer(s) must authorize the petitioner to file the petition. If the petition is based on performance contracts as in (a) above, then either the venues will need to sign a letter authorizing the petitioner file the petition, or authorization wording will need to be added into the performance contract. If the petition is based on a long-term contract as in (b) above, the contracting entity will need to sign a letter authorizing the petitioner to file the petition. Your case manager can provide you with templates letters or language to satisfy this new requirement.

Itinerary: We need you to email us your planned itinerary, including DATE, VENUE, ADDRESS, PROMOTER and DEAL. This should be in some editable format, like Excel, Word, or a text file. It should be as complete as possible, but do not make up performances that are not real! If you are seeking a visa that lasts longer than your currently booked engagements please mention this immediately to your case manager. IMPORTANT: DO NOT LIST DATES FOR WHICH YOU DO NOT HAVE CONTRACTUAL DOCUMENTATION. USCIS is now frequently challenging petitions that do not show contracts to support all dates listed on the itinerary.

Biography: We need a complete biography and (if you are a musical artist) discography. This is extremely important, and needs to be thorough and factual. PLEASE DO NOT SEND US A PRESS RELEASE! It should read like a good Wikipedia entry. This should be a professional summary of the artist’s career. Make sure to include information about awards or prizes the artist has received, even if they seem insignificant to you. Please make sure it casts the artist in the best light (not “these half-wit drug addicts…”) IMPORTANT: Bio must be in English, and it must be in the text of an e-mail or a text file emailed to your case manager.

Proof of a sustained career: If you’re an ensemble, we need some DATED document that is more than 12 months ago, that shows that the group has existed for more than a year. This can be a contract, liner notes, press, advertisements, etc.

Awards and Prizes: Any documentation you can give us that shows that the artist has won any significant award or prize.

Information about past performances: Documents that show that the artist has been performing at renowned venues, events, or organizations. To show qualifying evidence, we will need to prove

  • (a) that the artist performed at renowned venues, events, or organizations; this can be shown with contracts, live reviews, advertisement, program, or listings;
  • (b) that the artist was the headliner at these performances; this can also be shown with contracts, live reviews, advertisement, program, or listings;
  • (c) that the venue, event, or organization was renowned; If we can’t find information about the venue or event on Wikipedia, you’ll need to give us published information about it to demonstrate its renown.

Information about future performances: Documents that show that the artist will be performing at renowned venues, events, or organizations. To show qualifying evidence, we will need to prove

  • (a) that the artist will perform at renowned venues, events, or organizations; this can be shown with contracts, live reviews, advertisement, program, or listings;
  • (b) that the artist will be the headliner at these performances; this can also be shown with contracts, live reviews, advertisement, program, or listings;
  • (c) that the venue, event, or organization was renowned; If we can’t find information about the venue or event on Wikipedia, you’ll need to give us published information about it to demonstrate its renown.

Press: Press from your country and from abroad. Your home domestic press is probably the most impressive, so we should have some of that. However, we also have to prove that you are an “international artist,” so we need press that is not from your home country. Obviously, the more impressive the better, but anything helps. It need not be in English, but if it is not, we may need to secure translations of some or all of your press. If you plan to use non-English press, discuss this with us so we can advise you on the best way to prepare documents the CIS will accept. We need old and new press. We have to prove that you are an artist with sustained success. To do this we need a mixture of press from throughout your career. Ideally, please send us six good reviews, features, or interviews from your country, and six pieces from other countries (as many other countries as possible). In total you should be sending us about twelve pieces of press.

IMPORTANT: You MUST indicate for each press clipping the magazine name, country, and publication date. (If you don’t do this, we’ll just have to ask you to identify them all later, and that’s a waste of everybody’s time.)

IMPORTANT: Please e-mail scans of print press to your case manager as greyscale scans (200dpi JPGs, high-res). If you wish to submit online press, please just send us an email listing functioning URL links.

Evidence of commercial success: When possible it really helps if we can show evidence of the artist’s commercial success. USCIS is looking for some kind of quantifiable metric: chart ranking, SoundScan data (or other radio airplay), ticket or record sales. For this kind of evidence to be useful, we will also need to show evidence that the publication cited is valid. For example, if you were ranked #35 in the Billboard Latin Pop Chart, we will need to show the chart AND we will need to show them evidence that Billboard is an industry standard for radio play charts.

Testimonial letters: We need letters from an important (or important sounding) person in your industry. The authors cannot have a direct financial interest in the artist securing a visa and should be able to speak to the artist’s commercial or cultural achievements. This letter must be signed and on letterhead. Your case manager will supply you with a template. Incredibly, it now appears that we will also need to include for each testimonial letter some kind of published documentation about the author of the testimonial. This means that if we can’t Wikipedia them by name, you’ll need to point us in the direction of website, CVs, resumes, or a media articles about your testimonials’ authors.

Evidence of high pay: When possible it can be helpful to include contracts that show that the artist has been well paid or will be well paid. Generally, we try to include three contracts for past or future performances that indicate

  • (a) the amount of money that will be guaranteed for the performance; it need not be a huge amount. Generally if the contracts indicates that everyone will make more than 50USD / hour, the evidence can be useful.
  • (b) how long (in minutes or hours) the performance was or will last; this sounds crazy, but we are trying to prove high remuneration versus established hourly standards in the industry, so it’s important to be able to show exactly how much the artist is being paid.

Past contract: We need you to send us a contract for a past performance. Choose your highest paying contract, and, ideally, one that shows how long your set was. The performance could have been anywhere and at any time. As ridiculous as it may sound, we need this to help us establish your “hourly wage”.

Most recent release: If you are a musical artist, we need you to post to us your most recent release (probably your newest CD). Please send it to CoveyLaw, 20 Jay Street, Suite 308, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA. This is not normally as urgent as other documents, so it’s fine to send it normal airmail.

If you want to be the petitioner, we will also need…

Petitioner Letter: We will guide you through preparation of a letter that will be from your petitioner supporting your petition. You’ll need to sign and post this back to us in the original. (If you do not have a petitioner, speak with your attorney or case manager about making use of our relationship with the performing arts nonprofit Tamizdat, which may be able to act as your petitioner.)

Original Signed Forms: If some entity other than Tamizdat is your petitioner, we will prepare two forms that you’ll need to sign and post back to us in the original. These are the G-28 and the I-129.

Depending on your situation, we may request more documents, but this is certainly a good start.

A NOTE ABOUT DEADLINES: As a rule, if you want to avoid the government’s $1225 “Premium Processing” expediting fee, you need to have payment and all these documents to us and in good order three months before the date you need to have your visa issued. If you are willing to pay the government’s $1225 “Premium Processing” expediting fee, you still need to have payment and all these documents to us and in good order eight weeks before the date you need to have your visa issued.