In laymen’s terms, there are two types of visas that DJs and their support staff use to travel.
As msk.com describes, the “O” visa is good for three years and is used by an individual involved in the entertainment industry such as film, music, or sports.
The “P” visa is good for one year and is used by an “entertainment group” involving two or more persons with a limit of now 25 (It was 90).
Both require a US resident or employer to act as a petitioner.
To qualify for an “O” visa, the individual must demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement.” This is defined as someone who has been internationally recognized or has a high degree of skill in their respective field of endeavor.
So, if a DJ is traveling alone, like many do, they would fall under this category.
To qualify for a “P” visa, the individual must be a member of an internationally recognized team or group that has been recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained period of time. A “P” visa can also be used for family members and support staff of the individual.
So, if Paul van Dyk is traveling with his tour manager, which he does, they would fall under this category. Also, if DJ duos or groups like Aly & Fila or Above & Beyond travel together, even with no support staff, they would fall under this category.
As MusicTech states, the new 25 person limit for “P” visas inhibits large groups, such as orchestras, from using the same visa. If a 90-piece orchestra wants to travel, they would need to apply for four visas.
It’s also going to cost more.
As of October 2, 2020, “O” visas will increase from $460 to $705 – a rise of 53 percent.
“P” visas will increase from $460 to $695 – a rise of 51 percent.
The US Citizenship And Immigration Services (USCIS) has also changed the processing time for its “Premium Processing Service” from 15 calendar days to 15 business days, but it’ll cost you an extra $1440 (it was $1000) if you’re trying to make a last-minute gig and haven’t been to America before.
The rate hikes were proposed pre-COVID, so it remains to be seen how the increased fees will affect touring artists once travel and club-hopping again become commonplace.