Updates on National Interest Waivers for Performers

The premise behind national interest waivers is that the applicant may be essential to the US government. Therefore, there’s a misconception surrounding this visa document that only scholars fit that criteria. However, the government recognizes that performing arts are essential to the overall economy and satisfaction of the country. Over the years, legislation has evolved to include performers as an area of specialization. How can a performer claim national interest? Read on to understand what’s required in these unique situations.

Understanding the National Interest Waiver

The National Interest Waiver sits cleanly under the EB-2 second preference work-related visa category. Those who apply for an NIW must first qualify for the EB-2 visa, with one vital exception: they do not need an employer to sponsor them. Because of this exception, NIW petitioners can skip the long wait that is part of a job offer as employers submit paperwork for a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor and undergo the strict requirements this entails.

The EB-2 visa eligibility is twofold. Qualifying applicants must either have an advanced degree or five years or more of relevant experience and a bachelor’s degree. In place of the education requirement, EB-2 applicants may also be individuals who have exceptional abilities in business, science, or the arts.

Those who fit into these categories may receive job offers and go through the typical steps to obtain an EB-2 visa. But there are circumstances in which a job offer isn’t feasible, such as is the case with performers. For those individuals, a national interest waiver can be the best solution.

Proving That You’re in the National Interest

As the global pandemic shutdown proved to societies everywhere, the world depends on entertainment to keep up morale. This evidence forced the US government to adjust its stance on what was considered “essential work.” Jobs that fell into this category were linked to the stability of the country and, therefore, of national interest. Although the importance of performers was diametrically opposite those of essential jobs such as healthcare, the need for artists to keep up society’s mental health became clear, and this opened the path for performers to qualify for National Interest Waivers. 

Before the pandemic, it was possible to pursue an NIW as an artist, but the obstacles were challenging. Now, depending on how you can prove your exceptional abilities, USCIS officers are amenable to this potential.

Qualifying for an NIW as a Performer

Although it’s easier to qualify for an NIW as a performer, it’s never simple to obtain approval for this highly particular visa category. You must compile a watertight case that convinces the government to waive the job offer and labor requirements and let you in the country based on your merit alone. This is challenging, and most NIW applicants work with experienced attorneys like Visa2US to ensure they include everything necessary for approval the first time.

First, you’ll need to prove that you qualify as an artist/performer. Include evidence that demonstrates you’ve contributed to a body of music, worked in television or print media, or otherwise significantly impacted the field of art. You must show that you’ve had commercial success, not that you’re a potential up-and-coming star. With performers, the requirement is that you’re already well-established in the industry.

Next, letters of recommendation from others well-known in the arts who vouch for your skills as nationally important are necessary. These could be from previous employers, managers, co-artists, or companies that have worked with you.

Finally, connecting your skills with the US economy can seal the deal. Do you already have an itinerary of concerts scheduled? Include that information, along with the current ticket sale information. Anything that shows what you’ll be doing when you get into the country is invaluable to your case.

What’s Next?

Performers are integral to the US economy and the overall health of the country’s society. Still, the performing arts industry is highly competitive, and if you want to qualify for a National Interest Waiver, you’ll have to prove that you’re already well-established in your field. 

Regardless of how obvious you think your situation is and how famous you are in your country, the USCIS officials reviewing your case may not feel the same instantly. You must prove your fame, and our experienced legal professionals at Visa2US can help you do this. Contact our office today to get started developing a strong application and evidence that will get you fast-tracked to a National Interest Waiver!

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