A Secret About Passports

By Brian Taylor Goldstein, Esq.

Dear Law and Disorder:

I have a question about a visa I am working on.  This is one of those 0-1/0-2 visa things.  The person getting the 0-1 is fine and dandy, but the person who is getting the 0-2 just got French citizenship and is waiting for her passport – hopefully here soon, but I have to get this visa petition in really soon. Can I submit a petition without a copy of her new passport, which she is waiting on? Or does that absolutely have to be in the packet? I think she has the number of the passport that’s coming, but just not the physical booklet so that she can make a copy for me.

You should submit the petition with a copy of the OLD passport. A beneficiary does not need to show up at the consulate with the same passport that was used for the petition. There are many occasions when an artist will get a new passport between the time a petition is submitted and the time they actually go in for their consulate interview. So long as they show up at the consulate with a valid passport (and the name and birth date are the same) that’s all they care about.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: USCIS does not require passport copies to be submitted with a visa petition. So you may be asking yourself: “Then why should I ever bother including a copy of the passport in the first place?” I’ll tell you—to cover your butt! More specifically, as insurance against your mistakes or, more likely, mistakes made by USCIS.

As you are doubtlessly aware, each I-129 visa petition has a section where you enter the personal information of the artist—or, in the case of a group where there are multiple artists, you attach a beneficiary list where you provide the personal information for each member of the group. A clerk in the USCIS office will use this information to prepare the I-797 receipt notice as well as the all-important I-797 approval notice.

There are many opportunities to make typos on I-129 petitions. Most commonly, USCIS requires all birthdates to be entered into the MM/DD/YY format when most other countries around the world write dates in the DD/MM/YY format. Typos can also occur in the case of multiple middle names or unusual or uncommon spellings. If the visa petition includes a copy of the artist’s passport, USCIS will cross-reference the names and personal information listed on the I-129 with the data on the passport. If there are any discrepancies, they will use the information on the passport.

When an artist goes to a U.S. Consulate to apply for his or her visa, the name and birthdate on the artist’s passport must match EXACTLY the name and birthdate written on the I-797 approval notice. While some consulates will make an effort to sort out a discrepancy, others will simply reject the application and require the artist to obtain an amended I-797—which can often mean re-filing the entire visa petition, which includes incurring new filing fees. Providing USCIS with a copy of the artist’s passport can be a critical safety check. Also, in the event USCIS makes a mistake in listing an artist’s name or birthdate on the I-797 approval notice, but was given a copy of the passport with the correct information, USCIS will issue an amended I-797 without requiring you to re-file a new petition.

It doesn’t matter whether or not the passport provided with the visa petition is current or even valid. All that matters is that, at the time the artist appears at the U.S. Consulate, he or she presents a valid passport with the same name and birthdate as on the passport included with the visa petition.

Congratulations! You have just been given a piece of arcane information known only to the highest initiates!


For additional information and resources on this and other GG_logo_for-facebooklegal and business issues for the performing arts, visit ggartslaw.com

To ask your own question, write to lawanddisorder@musicalamerica.org.

All questions on any topic related to legal and business issues will be welcome. However, please post only general questions or hypotheticals. GG Arts Law reserves the right to alter, edit or, amend questions to focus on specific issues or to avoid names, circumstances, or any information that could be used to identify or embarrass a specific individual or organization. All questions will be posted anonymously.




The purpose of this blog is to provide general advice and guidance, not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with your specific circumstances, facts, challenges, medications, psychiatric disorders, past-lives, karmic debt, and anything else that may impact your situation before drawing any conclusions, deciding upon a course of action, sending a nasty email, filing a lawsuit, or doing anything rash!


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