International Artist/Musician Immigration

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Immigration to the United States

Working and performing in the United States is the dream of many international recording artists and musicians. To make that dream a reality, however, most foreign national talent must secure either an O or P visa and also comply with a complex and often confusing set of immigration laws once legally admitted. At Dickinson Wright, we have a team of immigration attorneys in seventeen offices across North America who regularly advise established international artists and entertainers on what they need to do to take their careers into the U.S. market. We also counsel sponsoring organizations, agents, and employers seeking to engage foreign national talent.

Having spent decades guiding recording artists, musicians, and their petitioning sponsors through the visa process, our immigration lawyers understand what is required for an application to have the best chance of securing approval. We are intimately familiar with the law around O and P visas, including how to best position the “extraordinary abilities” of a particular artist to satisfy the government’s specific and rigorous requirements. Once admitted, we also advise entertainers and sponsors on maintaining legal immigration status, and we handle visa renewals, if needed and applicable. Through every step we work side-by-side with our clients, serving as trusted guides through what can be a very stressful process for a foreign artist.

Our work in this area includes:

• Advising foreign national recording artists and musicians on the requirements, classifications, and process for obtaining O and P visas.
• Representing organizations, agents, and employers serving as petitioners for foreign national entertainers.
• Advising visa holders on maintaining legal status once admitted.
• Handling the process for visa renewals.
• Counseling employers on employment verification, federal investigations, and immigration compliance, including conducting audits, developing compliance manuals and policies, preparing clients for unannounced visa petition verification investigations, and representing clients in Department of Labor audits and PERM labor certification applications.

Artists and Musicians Coming to Canada

Dickinson Wright has a Canadian immigration law department that has developed a particular experience in obtaining the appropriate status to allow artists and musicians from the United States and abroad to work in Canada. We advise on all aspects of obtaining entry for international artists and musicians to the Canadian market, and have helped well-known musicians and performers overcome obstacles to entry to Canada.

In many cases, foreign artists and musicians will be able to secure entry to Canada for limited duration purposes without the need for a work permit: for example, to participate in competitions, shows, concerts, or other events. For other types of activities, a work permit will be required. We work with our clients to determine the most cost-effective and least time-consuming methods for them to apply to enter Canada, whether by way of exemptions to work permits, exemptions from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, or otherwise. This advice is vital to clients, as the costs and time associated with an LMIA work permit are considerably greater than is the case for an LMIA-exempt work permit.

In particular, we have considerable experience in how to best present the qualifications of visiting artists and musicians so as to satisfy the authorities that they meet the standards required for the issue of “significant benefit” work permits, issued to those who create or maintain significant cultural, social, or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadians. We will help ensure that no details are left out of any such applications.

Sometime, complications can arise in particular cases. A person may be inadmissible to Canada due to a past criminal conviction – even convictions that would be considered minor in the person’s home jurisdiction may result in a bar from entry into Canada. In such situations, we can apply our wealth of experience to advise clients on how to overcome inadmissibility, and that advice will often make the difference between smooth entry on the one hand, and being turned away from Canada at a crucial time on the other.
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