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Ten Steps to a Foreign Artist Visa: A Vastly Oversimplified Guide
September 27, 2012

(WARNING! Do not use these steps as the final word; every case is different. Always start by consulting ArtistsfromAbroad)

Scenario: A small performing arts center in a small city and state wants to hire French violinist Jolliette to perform. Jolliette will need an O-1 visa. The performing arts center will serve as her “Petitioner.”(For a more detailed Visa Processing Timeline, see Visa Processing Countdowns.) 

  1. Petitioner prepares a visa petition (including all required forms and extensive supporting evidence). 
  2. Petitioner submits draft petition and fee of $250 to American Federation of Musicians (the appropriate union in this scenario) for a consultation letter indicating whether the union has any objection to the petition. 
  3. Petitioner submits the official petition, the AFM consultation letter, and a filing fee of $325 to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) California Service Center (the appropriate service center in this scenario; see USCIS Service Center Tips, Jurisdictions and Contacts
  4. USCIS reviews petition. Petitioner waits, typically about four or five weeks, perhaps more.
  5. USCIS sends approval notice (or rejection/request for more information, delaying things further) to Petitioner.
  6. Assuming approval by USCIS, French violinist schedules interview at U.S. Consulate in Paris, completes and submits visa application forms to the consulate, and pays visa application fee. (Consulate fees vary; in Paris it is $190.)
  7. Artist is interviewed at U.S. Consulate in Paris and surrenders passport.
  8. Artist waits two to five days (or longer, depending on the time of year and the artist’s background).
  9. Artist returns to U.S. Consulate and picks up passport and visa.
  10. Artist travels to U.S.


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