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U.S. Visa Application Process

Find out about O and P, and B-1 visa application process for travelling to the United States of America. This information has been provided to the MU by the U.S. embassy in London.

Last updated: 05 December 2023

Disclaimer: This guidance should not be relied upon as legal advice, which can be provided only in the course of an attorney-client relationship with reference to all the facts of a specific situation. Any information contained here is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.

Guide to the O and P Visa Application Process for musicians

Step one: file a petition

The petitioner submits form I-129, all supporting documents, and any required fees on the applicant’s behalf to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States (not at the US Embassy or Consulate). The necessary supporting documents are specific to each visa category. Please visit the USCIS website for detailed eligibility information and instructions.

Step two: petition adjudication by USCIS

USCIS will notify the applicant and petitioner when a petition is approved, through a Notice of Action (Form I-797). Applicants in possession of the Notice of Action or the Petition receipt number may apply for a visa.

Step three: apply for a Visa

Please visit the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in the United Kingdom website for detailed information on the visa application process.

Applicants should bring all necessary documentation to the interview:

  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Appointment confirmation letter
  • Valid passport
  • One recent passport-size photograph
  • Other documents that may be required based on visa category and/or an applicant’s individual circumstances. Applicants should review the information under “petition based applicants” carefully to avoid unnecessary delays in case processing on the UK Embassy website.

Successful applications take between 3 and 5 work days to process before the passport is handed to the courier for delivery; at least a further 2 workdays should be allowed for delivery.

Some cases require additional administrative processing. Please see U.S. Embassy in the UK website for more information on processing times and return of passport.

For applicants requiring waivers of ineligibilities, the process takes between 6 and 8 months from the date of the interview. Please see the US Embassy in the UK website for more information on Ineligibilities and Waivers.

B-1 Temporary Business Visitor

You may be eligible for a B-1 visa if you will be participating in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including, but not limited to:

  • Consulting with business associates
  • Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
  • Settling an estate
  • Negotiating a contract
  • Participating in short-term training
  • Transiting through the United States: certain persons may transit the United States with a B-1 visa
  • Deadheading: certain air crewmen may enter the United States as deadhead crew with a B-1 visa

Eligibility criteria

You must demonstrate the following in order to be eligible to obtain a B-1 visa:

  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business of a legitimate nature
  • You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
  • You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
  • You have a residence outside the United States in which you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
  • You are otherwise admissible to the United States

Application process

For information on applying for a B-1 visa, see the U.S. Department of State website.

Aliens seeking a B-1 visa from certain countries may be able to enter the United States without a visa. For information about exemptions from the visa requirements, see the U.S. customs & Border Protection website.

If you are in the United States in another valid nonimmigrant status, you may be eligible to change to B-1 status. To change to B-1 status, you must file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. For more information, see the Change my Nonimmigrant Status page.

Information on understanding the requirements for a B-1 Visa are found here

What is the point of the UK interview at the US Embassy?

If USCIS approves your petition you typically will need to go to your local US consulate for an interview. The Consulate may deny your visa application for many reasons, including a criminal record, a prior visa violation, a disease, or if they have reason to believe that you pose a risk of illegally emigrating to the US. 

In some rare situations, the Consulate will not only deny a visa application, but they may decide to return your petition to USCIS with a recommendation that USCIS reverse its approval, and revoke the petition; this should only ever happen if the consulate uncovers evidence that the petition was fraudulent, they believe they have access to material information to which USCIS did not have access, or if they believe the petition was approved inclear error. Revocations should be very rare, and if it happens to you, you should definitely seek assistance.

Where do the interviews take place?

The interviews take place in London and Belfast. Costs of travel to interview can be written into your funding application.

Recently there has been a spate of applicants being rejected for B-1 visas at the Embassy in London. Those artists who have arranged B-1 interviews in Belfast have had a greater success rate. Therefore, if you have time it’s worth seeking and interview in Belfast. We believe the Embassy in London is the only one that disagrees with the ‘showcase exception’.

Is there anything I should say that would help at an interview for a B-1 Visa?

If you are looking at showcasing under a B-1 Visa it is important that you are able to articulate to the consulate that you are applying for the B-1 due to recently reported incidents of unexpected ESTA revocations. You should be prepared to demonstrate that the event at which you are performing is a bona fide industry showcase within the US government’s definition, which is annotated in this statute 9FAM 41.31.N8 via Matter of Hira.

What are the consequences of a B-1 Visa denial?

If you are denied a B-1 Visa then you are deemed ineligible to apply for an ESTA. You will be then encouraged to apply for an ‘O’ or ‘P’ visa.

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