What is the P-1A Visa for Athletes and Athletic Teams?
A P-1 visa allows a foreign national to come to the U.S. temporarily to perform in a specific event.
P-1 visas are available to athletes or athletic teams that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time and for entertainment groups as well. Nationally recognized entertainment companies known for being outstanding may also qualify. P-1 visas can be issued based on the expertise of a group.
Entertainment companies, with many performers who wish to qualify for a P-1 visa must be able to prove that the individual performer has an important and integral position in the group. The performer must have been working with the group for at least one year. However, in some instances, USCIS has allowed up to 25% of the performers to be excused from this one-year requirement. In exceptional situations, this requirement may also be waived, such as in circumstances where an illness or other extenuating circumstance, a critical performer is unable to travel.
Support personnel to the group need not meet the one-year requirement. It is for performers only. It also does not apply to any person or performer who works for a circus.
Who is the P-1A visa available to?
If you are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific event, the P-1 classification may apply to you. If you are an athlete involved in an athletic competition individually or as a group, you should be performing at an internationally recognized level of performance. There are also other requirements for athletes who wish to come to the U.S. for an event.
P-1 visas are available to athletes or athletic teams that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time. Entertainment companies that have been nationally recognized as outstanding for a long time also qualify. P-1 visas can be issued based on the expertise of a group.
In the case of an entertainment company, each performer who wishes to qualify for a P-1 visa must have been an integral part of the group for at least one year, although up to 25% of them can be excused from this one-year requirement, if need be. This requirement may also be waived in exceptional situations, where due to illness or other unanticipated circumstances, a critical performer is unable to travel.
The one-year requirement is for performers only. It does not apply to support personnel. It also does not apply to anyone at all who works for a circus, including performers.
What is the eligibility criteria for individual athletes to obtain a P-1A visa?
There are strict USCIS eligibility requirements for athletes. Your purpose of visiting the U.S. must be to participate in individual event, competition or performance. You should have international recognition, with a high level of achievement. This can all be evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition very much above a normal level for other athletes in the same field. Your achievement should be renowned, leading or well known in more than one country.
Read more about how immigration law defines an "athlete" here.
What are the eligibility requirements for athletic teams to obtain P-1A visas?
You and your team must be coming to the United States to participate in team events. The event in which your team is participating must be distinguished. This means that it should require the participation of athletic teams of international recognition and acclaim. Additionally, your own team must have achieved some sort of significant international recognition in the sport.
What documentation is required for a P-1A visa?
Applicants for a P-1A visa must submit the following P-1 visa specific documents, in addition to general set of documents required for all P visa applicants.
- a tendered contract with a major U.S. sports league or team, or a contract with an individual sports commensurate with international recognition in that sport;
- at least two of the following types of evidence:
- significant extend of participation in a prior season with a major U.S. sports league (major league sport);
- participation on a national team at international levels;
- participation to a significant extend in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition;
- a written statement from a member of the sports media or other recognized expert outlining how the athlete or team is internationally recognized;
- evidence that the athlete or the team is highly ranked internationally;
- evidence that the team or athlete has received significant honor or award in the sport of performance.