The P-Visa generally applies to foreign athletes and entertainment groups who do not meet the “extraordinary ability” standard under the O-Visa classification. The P-Visa allows talented individuals to enter the U.S. for a temporary period to compete in a sports competition or participate in an entertainment performance.
Are you a foreign citizen and a great athlete but unable to meet the standards for an O-Visa?
Are you or your sports team recognized at the international level?
Do you or your team have a sports competition in the United States?
Or. . .
Are you part of an internationally known performing group in the entertainment industry?
Do you and your group have to perform a show in the United States?
If you answered “Yes” to either set of questions above, then you and/or your team or group may qualify for a P-1A (athletes) or P-1B (entertainers) visa.
THE P-1A VISA
The P-1A visa category is for athletes coming to the U.S. temporarily to play in a specific, internationally recognized sports event or competition, either as an individual athlete or as part of a group or team. Some internationally recognized events include the World Cup (FIFA), the U.S. Open, any World Championships, and the Olympics.
WHAT DO I NEED TO SHOW AS AN INDIVIDUAL ATHLETE FOR A P-1A VISA?
You must demonstrate that you are highly skilled and internationally recognized in your particular sport, more so than other athletes. You must also show that you are coming to the U.S. to participate in a specific event, competition, or performance.
WHAT DOES MY TEAM NEED TO SHOW FOR A P-1A VISA?
The team must be coming to the U.S. for a team event and internationally recognized in the sport. The event or competition must be a popular competition, in which other internationally known teams compete, as well.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO HAVE?
You must provide some documents to qualify for a P-1A visa. These documents are listed below:
- A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization;
- If available, your contract with a major U.S. sports league or team, or a contract in an internationally known individual sport;
- A document explaining the competition and the program of the event;
- And at least two of the following:
○ Proof that you have played in a big event before with a U.S. sports league;
○ Proof that you have played in a big event before with a team in your country in international competition;
○ Proof that you have played for a U.S. college or university against other college teams;
○ A letter from an official of a major U.S. sports league or from an official of the sport, which shows how you or your team is internationally known;
○ A letter from a sports journalist or a sports expert, indicating how your team is internationally known;
○ Proof of what rank you and/or your team is, if applicable;
○ Evidence that you or your team has received awards or honors.
HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN THE U.S. ON A P-1A VISA?
As an individual P-1A visa holder, you may stay as long as you need to compete in the particular event, but not more than five years. You can ask for an extension for up to 5 years at a time. The maximum amount of time allowed on a P-1A visa is ten years. As a team member, you may stay as long as the team needs to complete the sports event, but not more than one year. The team can ask for an extension for up to 1 year at a time.
CAN THE FAMILY MEMBERS OF P-1A VISA HOLDERS ACCOMPANY THEM TO THE U.S.?
Yes. The spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years old) of P-1A visa holders can apply for P-4 visa status. The family members of P-1A visa holders cannot work in the U.S. but may attend school.
CAN MY COACH OR TRAINER ACCOMPANY ME TO THE UNITED STATES?
If you cannot perform your sport without your coach or trainer and a U.S. worker cannot provide their services, your coach can apply for P-1 visa status, as well. Team officials and referees are also eligible for this classification.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO THEY NEED TO SHOW?
Coaches and trainers must provide the following documentation:
- A consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the area of the support person’s skill;
- A statement explaining why the applicant is essential to the athlete’s performance in the event or competition; and,
- A copy of their contract with their employer and a summary of what the coach or trainer or another support personnel has to do while accompanying the athlete in the U.S.
THE P-1B VISA
The P-1B visa category is for individuals coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform as members of an internationally recognized entertainment group. This visa is not available to entertainers not performing as a part of a group.
WHAT DOES MY GROUP NEED TO SHOW FOR A P-1B VISA? Your group must demonstrate that at least 75% of your group members have been members for at least one (1) year. You must also show that the group is internationally recognized and has had high levels of achievement. The reputation of the group, not its members, is taken into consideration.
WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED, EITHER INDIVIDUALLY OR AS A GROUP?
The list of necessary documents for a P-1B visa are as follows:
- A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization regarding the nature of the work that you do and your qualifications;
- A list of all the dates and places of your performances;
- Proof that your group has performed together for at least one year;
- A copy of the contract or summary of terms between you and the person who is employing you and your group;
- A list detailing each member of the group and when they started performing with the group regularly;
- Proof that your group is known all over the world and has a reputation for excellence;
- Proof of nominations for awards, receipt of recognition, or at least three of the following:
○ Proof that your group performed as the lead in big productions;
○ Proof that your group has been reviewed and written about in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other published material;
○ Show that your group has performed or will perform in a starring role in popular events;
○ Show that your group has an international reputation for excellence;
○ Proof that your group has won awards and recognition;
○ Proof that your group has been paid and will be paid a high salary for its services, more than others in your field.
HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN THE U.S. UNDER THE P-1B VISA?
Your group can stay in the U.S. with a P-1B visa for the time it needs to complete the event, but for no more than one (1) year. Your team can file for an extension, which is usually granted for one year at a time.
CAN MY FAMILY ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. ON A P-1B VISA?
Yes. The spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years old) of P-1B visa holders can apply for P-4 visa status. The family members of P-1B visa holders cannot work in the U.S. but may attend school.
CAN MY CAMERAMEN, LIGHTING TECHNICIANS, AND STAGE PEOPLE ACCOMPANY ME TO THE UNITED STATES?
If you cannot perform at your event without your cameramen, lighting technicians, and stage assistants, and U.S. workers cannot provide their services, they can apply for P-1 visa status with you. Front office personnel are eligible for this classification, as well.
WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED BY STAFF MEMBERS?
Cameramen and technicians must provide the following documentation:
- A consultation from an appropriate labor organization;
- A statement explaining why they are essential to the group’s performance in the event;
- A copy of their contract with their employer and a summary of what the person has to do while accompanying the group in the U.S.
Suppose you are an internationally recognized sports personality or part of an internationally known sports team or entertainment group and do not qualify under the “extraordinary ability” prong of the O-Visa. In that case, you may still be able to compete or perform in the United States with a P-1 visa. Like the O-Visa, you must be internationally recognized in your field and have had high levels of achievement. Under this visa, your family members and various other individuals essential to your skill or talent may accompany you to the United States. They may not work, but they may study while attending you.