P-1 Visa for Athletes, Artists, Entertainers

The P-1 visas are available for internationally recognized athletes, artists and entertainers to enter the U.S. to participate in a specific competition, event, or performance for a U.S. employer or an international employer working through a U.S. agent who do not meet the strict requirements necessary to qualify for the extraordinary ability (O-1) visa but are nonetheless considered outstanding in their field.

P-1A Visa for Internationally Recognized Athletes

The athlete or the team must have an internationally recognized reputation in the sport and must must be coming to the U.S. to participate in an individual event, competition or performance in which the athlete is internationally recognized with a high level of achievement; evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned or well known in more than one country (Individual Athlete). An athletic team must be coming to the United States to participate in team events and must have achieved significant international recognition in the sport. The event in which your team is participating must be distinguished and require the participation of athletic teams of international recognition.

The allowed duration of stay for an individual athlete is equivalent to time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 5 years. An extension may be granted in increments of up to 5 years in order to continue or complete the event, competition or performance.  The total stay of an individual athlete is limited to 10 years

The allowed duration of stay for an athletic team is equivalent to the time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 1 year. An extension may be granted in increments of up to 1 year in order to continue or complete the event, competition or performance.

The application must be accompanied by a consultation from “an appropriate labor organization” as well as proof of “significant participation in a prior season with a major United States sports league, that the applicant has taken part in “international competition with a national team, proof of “significant participation in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition, Letters demonstrating that the athlete or team is internationally renowned and/or proof that the individual or team is ranked, “if the sport has international rankings; or that the alien or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport”.

P-1B Visa for a Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group

The P-1B classification applies to members of a foreign-based entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time to come to the United States temporarily to perform with the group. The P visa is not available for individual entertainers, but only to members of groups with international reputations. The group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is essential. At least 75 percent of the members of your group must have had a substantial relationship with the group for at least one year. This one year requirement does not apply to circus performers and essential circus personnel.

The validity of the P-1B visa is equivalent to the time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 1 year.  Extensions may be given in increments of up to 1 year in order to continue or complete the event, competition or performance.

The Application must be accompanied by a onsultation from an appropriate labor organization regarding the nature of the work to be done or a statement proving that the group has been established and performing regularly for a period of at least one year (If no appropriate labor organization exists, this requirement is excused).

In addition, proof “that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least one year” , Proof that the group has received ” international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field, or evidence of at least 3 of the following:

  • 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;
  • The group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field, as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material;
  • The group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation, as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  • The group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
  • The alien has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien’s achievements; or
  • The group has commanded and 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” (USCIS).

Essential Support Personnel

Essential Support Personnel who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1 entertainer(s) or athlete (team) and who perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker, are eligible for P-1 classification. Support personnel include front office personnel, camera operators, lighting technicians and stage personnel, coaches, scouts, trainers and other team officials and referees.

The petition must include the following:

  • A consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the area of the support person’s skill
  • A statement describing the support person’s prior and current essentially, critical skills and experience with the P-1 entertainer(s) or the athlete (team)
  • A copy of a written contract between the employer and the support person or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the support person will be employed

Family of P-1A and P-1B Visa Holders

The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain P-4 status.  They may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college.