P-1 Visas for Athletes and Entertainers

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P-1 visas for athletes and entertainers are available to people who are coming to the United States on a temporary basis – and only those who are coming for the purpose of performing at a specific athletic competition or for entertaining a specific performance, event or series of performances.

P-1 Visas: The Basics

P-1 visas are temporary work visas. You cannot stay in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time on this type of visa, and it’s not typically a pathway to naturalization.

P-1 Visas for Athletes and Entertainers - Dallas & Houston Immigration LawyersP-1 Visas for Athletes and Entertainers - Dallas & Houston Immigration Lawyers

(There are other visas you can use, particularly those based on your exceptional ability or talent, that may allow you a pathway to U.S. citizenship.)

There are two types of P-1 visas: P-1A for athletes and P-1B for entertainers.

What About Families Of P-1 Visa Holders?

Generally speaking, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can obtain P-4 nonimmigrant status for the duration of your stay in the United States. P-4 status does not authorize family members to work in the U.S., but people who are here on that status may attend school or college.

What About Essential Support Personnel Of P-1 Visa Holders?

Essential support personnel – people are absolutely essential to your performance in athletics or entertainment – may be eligible for P-1S nonimmigrant status. The catch is that they must be an “integral part of the performance” of a P-1 nonimmigrant, and they must perform services that can’t be readily performed by a U.S. worker.

Essential support personnel may include:

  • Coaches
  • Scouts
  • Trainers
  • Broadcasters
  • Referees
  • Linesmen
  • Umpires
  • Interpreters
  • Front office personnel
  • Camera operators
  • Lighting technicians
  • Stage personnel

In this classification, a separate petition must be filed and include the opinion of an appropriate labor organization to verify that the support person’s skill makes them essential to the athlete or team and a statement that describes the essential support person’s experience, why they are essential and their experience. It’s important to know that a written contract or a summary of a verbal contract detailing the essential support person’s employment is also needed.

P-1A Visas For Athletes

P-1 Visa Attorneys - Davis & AssociatesYou must meet certain criteria to get a P-1A visa. For example, you must be one of the following:

  • An individual athlete who has an internationally recognized level of performance
  • A professional athlete
  • An athlete or coach who is coming as part of a team or franchise that is located in the United States but is a member of a foreign league or association
  • Part of a group or team that has an internationally recognized level of performance and is taking part in a genuine and distinguished competition

This classification may also be available to you if you’re a professional or amateur athlete who is coming to the U.S. on a temporary basis solely to perform in a specific theatrical ice-skating production or tour, either on your own or as part of a group.

P-1 Visas For Internationally Recognized Individual Athletes

To fall into this category, you must:

  • Be taking part in a specific competition or sport in which you are internationally recognized
  • Have a high level of achievement in a sport proven by skill and recognition that’s substantially above ordinary
  • Have renowned, leading or well-known achievements in more than one country
  • Be taking part in a competition that has a distinguished reputation and requires participation of internationally recognized athletes

P-1 Visas For Pro Athletes

You must be coming to the U.S. to be employed by:

  • A team that’s a member of an association that includes at least six professional sports teams with combined revenues exceeding $10 million per year
  • A minor league team that is affiliated with such an association

P-1 Visas For Amateur Athletes And Coaches

You must enter the U.S. to perform as an athlete or coach while being part of a team or franchise located in the U.S. but is a member of a foreign league or association that:

  • Consists of 15 or more amateur sports teams
  • Prohibits you from earning a scholarship in the sport or taking part in the sport at a U.S. college or university
  • Is the highest level of amateur performance of that sport in your country
  • Produces a significant number of draftees for major sports leagues and minor sports leagues affiliated with major leagues

P-1 Visas For Internationally Recognized Athletic Teams

For a P-1 visa, you must be a member of an internationally recognized sports team. Plus, you must show that:

  • You’re entering the country to take part in an athletic competition with the internationally recognized sports team
  • The team is taking part in a competition with a distinguished reputation
  • You are at an internationally recognized level of performance, so you are needed on the team at the competition

Frequently Asked Questions About P-1 Visas For Athletes

How long can I stay on a P-1 athletics visa?

That depends on your category, but the initial period of stay will always be “the time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance.” For individual athletes, this can’t exceed five years. For members of athletic groups, the visa is good for up to one year.

Can I extend my stay?

Extensions can be granted in increments of five years with a limit of ten years in total for individual athletes, provided more time is actually needed. Members of athletic groups can be granted extensions in increments one year at a time if more time is needed.

What happens if I am traded while on a P-1 athletic visa?

If you’re a professional athlete and you are traded by your organization, your authorization will continue for 30 days after you are traded. During these 30 days, the new organization will need to file a new Form I-129 for your visa status to stay valid. This can get tricky if you change employers under different circumstances, so be sure to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

How do you start the process of getting a P-1 visa as an athlete?

Before you can come to the United States on a P-1 athletics visa, your U.S. employer, sponsor, or agent must petition on your behalf. They do this by filing a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, submit all the required documentation and pay the fee.

Who can petition for my P-1 nonimmigrant visa?

Your U.S. employer, a U.S. sponsoring organization, your foreign employer through a U.S. agent, or your U.S. agent can all petition on your behalf to have you classified as a P nonimmigrant.

What happens if an athletics visa is denied?

Sometimes a P-1 denial makes sense, but sometimes, it’s a mistake on the part of the USCIS officer because they just don’t adjudicate many P-1 visa applications. Filing a lawsuit can be an option, but if the P-1 visa is denied and you need to enter the country, a skilled attorney will be able to look at your individual situation to figure out the fastest path to resolution.

Do eSports athletes qualify for a P-1 visa?

The eSports industry is a quickly growing industry. Now, video gamers competing in eSports are getting paid to participate in international competitions, just like professional athletes. In 2013, the first video gamer was granted a visa as a professional athlete.

P-1B Visas For Entertainers

P-1 Visa Attorneys - Davis & AssociatesEntertainers, including musicians and actors, may be eligible for P-1B visas. However, in order to qualify, you must be performing as part of an entertainment group that has been established for at least a year, and your group must be recognized internationally for a sustained and substantial period of time.

In order for individual members to be eligible, at least 75 percent of the members of your group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group as a whole for at least a year. Your group must also:

  • Be internationally recognized
  • Have a high level of achievement in a field as evidenced by skill and recognition that’s substantially over ordinary
  • Your achievement must be renowned, leading or well-known in more than one country

The group’s reputation is what’s important here – not just the achievements of individual members. Additionally, this classification is only available to groups; individual entertainers may have other options, which a Dallas or Houston immigration attorney can explain.

How Long Can You Stay In The U.S. On A P-1B Visa?

The initial period of stay in the U.S. depends on how long it will take you and your group to complete all the performances on your tour. Visas can be granted for up to one year, but you may be able to extend your stay for up to a year at a time to continue or complete your event, competition or performance. For example, if you’re playing five concerts in a matter of one month, you’ll likely be granted a visa for a one-month period. However, if you have a long-term engagement or will be performing a series of concerts over the course of a year, you may be granted a one-year visa.

Do You Need To Talk To An Attorney About A P-1 Visa?

If you’re interested in coming to the U.S. on a P-1 visa, or if your organization needs to bring in foreign athletes or entertainers, we may be able to help you. Call our office today for a free consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.