Dated: January 2016
Did you know that O and P petitions can be filed one year in advance of the event? Don’t be misled by the old regulation that said 6 months. The current regulations state: The petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien’s services.1 This change to the regulations was published in the Federal Register on April 16, 2007 as a final rule.2
What motivated USCIS to change the rule? It recognized that the timing needed to adjudicate petitions often cut into the requested validity period, creating economic loss and other hardships for U.S. petitioners. A one-year advance filing period ensures that USCIS can complete adjudication in time for the scheduled event. While most O and P petitioners are unable to schedule events more than one year in advance, some, depending on the art form and the nature of the event, are able to do so. For example, major rock bands and motion picture and television producers are more likely to know where they will be more than one year out. In such cases, the one-year filing rule provides a comfortable cushion.
Others, however, may not benefit from this rule. Some musicians only book a few months ahead of an event and many cultural groups book performances only a few weeks in advance. In these cases, there are two sources that might be helpful in accommodating the shorter window. First, INA §214(c)(6)(D) suggests that USCIS must adjudicate petitions within 14 days.3 Second, if premium processing is requested, a decision should be provided within 15 days. However, a Request for Evidence will likely delay adjudications in either of these scenarios.
Be sure to take into consideration that as of January 2016, the California Service Center is taking 3-4 weeks to process O and P petitions, while the Vermont Service Center is taking 3-4 months. Having an O or P petition approved well in advance of the event date is also helpful if the beneficiary requires a 212(d)(3) waiver, which can take several months to process.
In sum, if the petitioner, beneficiary, and venues are able to book far in advance of an appearance, you can file the petition up to one year prior to the start date.
1 8 CFR § 214.2(o)(2)(i) and 214.2(p)(2)(i).
2 72 Fed Reg. 18856 – 18860 (April 16, 2007).
3 INA § 214(c)(6)(D) states: Once the 15-day [consultation comment period] has expired and the petitioner has had an opportunity, where appropriate, to supply rebuttal evidence, the Attorney General shall adjudicate such [O or P] petition in no more than 14 days. (Emphasis added)
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