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U.S. Immigration Law

P-1 Visas for Athletes and Entertainers

P1 Visa for Entertainers and AthletesWhat is an P-1 Visa?

The P-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa for 1) foreign athletes who will be competing in the U.S. individually or as part of a team at an internationally recognized level of competition, and 2) foreign entertainment groups that have received international recognition as outstanding for a substantial period of time. The P-1 category includes individuals who perform with or are an essential part of the performance of an entertainment group.

Criteria for the P-1 Athletes and Entertainment Groups:

P-1 Athletes

P-1 non-immigrant visas are granted to foreign athletes coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.

The employer sponsoring the foreign individual must document the following:

  1. That the athlete or team is internationally recognized;
  2. That the athletic competition has a distinguished reputation; and
  3. That the competition requires the participation of athletes or teams with international reputations.

Additionally, the P-1 petition must include the following:

  1. A tendered contract between the foreign athlete and a major U.S. sports league or team; and
  2. Any two of the following:
    1. Evidence of the athlete’s participation in a prior season with a major United States sports league;
    2. Evidence of the athlete’s participation in international competition with a national team;
    3. Evidence of the athlete’s participation in a prior season for a U.S. college/university in intercollegiate competition;
    4. A written statement from an official of a major U.S. sports league or an official of the governing body of the sport which details how the foreign individual or team is internationally recognized;
    5. A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details how the athlete or team is internationally recognized;
    6. Evidence that the individual or team is ranked if the sport has international rankings; or
    7. Evidence that the athlete or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.
  3. Written Consultation from a labor organization.

The P-1 category also includes essential support personnel for foreign athletes or teams.

P-1 Entertainment Groups

P-1 non-immigrant visas are also granted to foreign individuals coming temporarily to perform as members of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding for a sustained period of time. The individual entertainers must document a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (for at least one year) or provide functions integral to the group’s performance. The group must have been together for at least one year, and at least three-fourths of the members must have been in the group for at least a year.

To document international recognition for a sustained period of time, the following must be produced:

  1. Evidence of the group’s nomination or receipt of significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in its field; OR
  2. Evidence of three of the following:
    1. Evidence that the group has performed, and will perform, as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation, as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
    2. Evidence that the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field, as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
    3. Evidence that the group has performed, and will perform, services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation, evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
    4. Evidence that the group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by ratings; standing in the field; box office receipts; record, cassette, or video sales; and other achievements in the field as reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
    5. Evidence that the group has achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field; or
    6. Evidence that the group has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

The P-1 category also includes essential support personnel for foreign entertainment groups.

For How Long are P Visas Valid?

A P-1 visa for an individual athlete may be granted for a period up to five years and may be extended for an additional five years.

A P-1 visa for an athletic team may be granted for a period up to one year and may be extended in one-year increments.

A P-1 visa for an entertainment group may be granted for a period up to one year and may be extended in one-year increments.

Who may accompany a P Visa holder?

Essential Support Personnel

Essential support personnel for P-1 athletes, teams and entertainment groups; P-2 entertainers and artists; and P-3 culturally unique artists and entertainers may also enter the U.S. in the category of the individual or group they support. These individuals also require written consultations from labor organizations in their field. Support services are defined as those which cannot be readily performed by a United States worker and which are essential to the successful performance of services by the P-1, P-2 or P-3 visa holder.

Spouse and Children

The spouse and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one may apply for P-4 visa status in order to accompany the P-1, P-2 or P-3 visa holder to the U.S. P-4 visa status does not confer authorization for employment in the U.S.

How may I obtain a P Visa?

Petitions are filed at the appropriate U.S.C.I.S. Regional Service Center. If the foreign individual is present in the United States and eligible to change non-immigrant status, the U.S.C.I.S. will issue an approval notice with a new I-94 card. If the foreign individual is unable to change status in the U.S. or is not present in the U.S., he/she must apply for a P visa at a U.S. consulate abroad.

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