Music and Refugees

Today is Bloggers Unite for Refugees day, so I thought I’d post some stuff I’ve run into over the years about different countries and their policies on accepting musicians. This may be a resource for musical and artistic refugees and I hope that someone finds it interesting, useful, and perhaps it could lead to some thinking on larger levels.

As we have seen from my earlier post on social capital, often music is what can unite a group of people. In some drastic circumstances, we have seen that music is often the only resource a community has to keep them together.

I AM NOT A LAWYER. Please contact a licensed immigration attorney for questions.

This is a summary of what I’ve run across so far:

The United States of America

Individuals of extraordinary ability or achievement (O)

“O” visas are issued to highly talented, professionals of high acclaim. They are issued most often to artists, athletes, entertainers, and business professionals who do not have professional degrees. The visas are sometimes issued to scientists and educators. The visas are sometimes used in lieu of the H-1B visas, which are subject to wage restraints and a restrictive visa cap (discussed above). The O-1 category is for aliens of extraordinary ability; O-2 is for certain aliens accompanying O-1 aliens in the arts or athletics; O-3 is for dependents of aliens in the O-1 and O-2 categories. O-1 visa applicants must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim, and be recognized in the field through extensive documentation. O-1 aliens need not have a foreign residence they do not intend to abandon to qualify for this nonimmigrant visa. O-2 (accompanying) aliens, however, must maintain a foreign residence they do not intend to abandon. O-2 aliens must have skills and experience with the O-1 alien not of a general nature, which are critical either based upon a pre-existing, long-standing working relationship, or with respect to specific production. The continuing participation of the O-2 alien must be shown to be essential for successful completion of the production. Form I-129, plus supporting documentation and O supplement is filed with a CIS service center, along with a filing fee of $190.00, which must accompany the visa petition.

Athletes and entertainment groups (P)

“P” visas are appropriate for athletes and entertainment groups (but not individuals). P-1 visa status is generally accorded internationally known athletes, individually or as part of a group or team, and to entertainment groups. P-2 visa status is accorded to performing artists under the auspices of a reciprocal exchange program. P-3 visa status is accorded to culturally unique entertainers. These visa classifications include accompanying personnel. The P-4 visa category is for dependents of aliens in P-1, P-2, and P-3 visa status. For members of entertainment groups, the P-1 classification is generally accorded to a group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. Each alien seeking to enter the United States on the P-1 visa must show that he or she had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group of at least a year, and must be entering the United States solely to perform or entertain with the group. (Only 75 percent of group members must show that they had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for at least a year.) P-2 and P-3 visas are issued to artists and entertainers who perform individually or as part of a group in a reciprocal exchange program between one or more U.S. organizations and one or more organizations in other countries. Labor unions are usually involved in establishing the exchange program. The exchange must be similar in caliber of artists and entertainers, in terms and conditions of employment, and in numbers of aliens involved in the exchange. P-3 visas are issued to culturally unique artists or entertainers — individually, or as a group — who are coming to the United States to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach their particular art or discipline. This visa can fit many types of artists and entertainers.

All “P” visa categories allow for the accompaniment of “essential support” personnel. Form I-129, plus supporting documentation and P supplement is filed with a CIS service center, along with a filing fee of $190.00, which must accompany the visa petition.



In spite of recent efforts to restrict the immigration of unskilled foreigners to France, France has nevertheless kept its borders open to skilled workers and the rules have been made ever more favourable to group companies and technical employees for the performance of international service agreements. France has recently opened its borders to foreign (non EU) workers via a number of recent reforms. A number of categories of work permit and temporary work visas exist, notably a new hire of a foreign person, the transfer of a foreign employee to France for a limited time to perform a specific function, and special provisions for high-level employees of international groups. A special provision is provided for foreigners sent to France to open a representative office of a foreign company. A foreign professional may also obtain a work visa as an independent (non-salaried) professional or officer of a French company. Specific categories are provided for scientists performing research work or performing a teaching position at a university level, artists/performers and musicians, film artists, living language teachers, secondary school teachers via exchange programs, university teachers and other teachers of higher learning, researchers, interpreter/guides, camp counsellors, air pilots and crew, models, bull-fighters, student interns, profesional interns, students requesting the right to work during period of study or during vacation periods, public service hospital workers, and private medical and pharmacy professionals.

In my experience, the best way to get permission to stay is to start a business. Even for refugees, this can be done with one Euro, and one form which can be completed on the internet.

United Kingdom

The UK is in the process of changing its laws to a points-based system. There will be 5 tiers, with Tier 1 equal more or less to the HSMP. No details are available yet, although the system will be implemented in only two-and-a-half-weeks from today’s date.


As in France, perhaps the most efficient way is to start a business. Ich AG the only site I can find in English is the mechanism for doing this.

I hope this information is of help to someone.refugeesunite_15

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