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Performing in the U.S.

On this page you will find information about:

Which visa do I need?

If you are considering applying for a visa to perform in the US you have three options to choose from. These are an O, P and B Visas.

It’s important that you establish which US visa is the most appropriate one to apply for. The crucial thing is to answer these questions objectively.
1. Are you a solo artist (with or without a band) of exceptional ability?
If yes then you should probably be seeking an O-1.

2. Are you in a band, jazz, or classical ensemble with sustained international renown?
If yes then you should probably be seeking a P-1.

3. Have you been invited to perform at an official music industry showcase event?
If yes then you should probably be seeking a B-1, but only if you have no paid gigs, and the principal reason the audience is in attendance is not to be entertained, but to consider hiring you in the future.

4. Do you perform folkloric or traditional music, and you are going to the US to give culturally unique presentations?
If yes then your best option may be the P-3.

Read our Q&A on the visa application process

The ESTA visa waiver and showcasing

ESTA (Electronic System Travel Authorisation) is a permit to travel, not a visa.

Musicians have experienced difficulties with ESTAs in the last year when showcasing so click here for an update:

Find out if ESTA is the right way to go for you.

US travel ban

If you fear you may be affected by the US Travel Ban (Executive Order 13780), please visit the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website for the latest information.


Premium processing fees for US Visas

The current 'fast-track' or premium processing for US visa applications is $1440.

Further guidance

Free Guidance

The following organisations offer free guidance for MU members:

  • Tamizdat is a Brooklyn-based non-profit that offers pro bono legal advice about artists visa issues.
  • Artists From Abroad is the authorization online resource for information about the US artist visa process.
  • Viva La Visa is a Suffolk-based visa expediting company that also offer free consultations. Viva La Visa Contact Viva La Visa on 01473 892660 at

Paid Guidance (prices vary widely)

  • Benmar is a London-based visa expediting service.
  • CoveyLaw is a Brooklyn-based law firm which has a grant program for independent artists that can substantially reduce their fees.
  • Viva La Visa is a Suffolk-based visa expediting service that offers a 20% discount to MU members.

Get in touch

Members are reminded that visa information is subject to change at short notice.

Please contact the MU’s Live Performance department for the most up to date information via or 0207 840 5512.

Related downloads

US Airline Ruling Info Sheet (January 2015) (PDF 27.71 bytes file opens in new window)

The US Visa Application Process - Q&A (PDF 115.79 bytes file opens in new window)