Overview of the P-1 Visa

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A “P” visa denotes a category of visas issued to accomplished entertainment companies (circuses included), athletic teams, and athletes that have received an offer of short-term employment from a U.S. based employer.

P visa classifications are as follows: P-1, P-2, and P-3. Today’s blog topic goes over the P-1 Visa.

P-1 Visa

A P-1 Visa is available to an entertainment group, foreign athlete, or athletic team internationally recognized as accomplished and outstanding for a lengthy, continuous time period. The sponsoring employer will have to submit an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval, who defines “international recognition” this way:

“Having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country.”

Entertainment groups, foreign athletic teams, and the foreign athlete each have their own P-1 qualification requirements:

Entertainment group – An internationally acclaimed entertainment group that is recognized for outstanding performances, productions, and expertise over a prolonged period of time. In most cases, the individual performers must be recognized as an integral part of the entertainment group for at least a year to qualify for P-1 visa status, although exceptions can be made due to injury or illness of a key group member. The “one-year of service” requirement extends only to performers and not support personnel. Also, all individual circus workers, including performers are exempt from the one-year requirement.

Athletic team – The athletic team must have garnered international acclaim and recognition in their respective sport. Additionally, the athletic team’s essential support personnel may also be granted identical P visa designation.

Individual athlete – The athlete must be internationally recognized in their field, and provide at least two of the following credentials:

  • Verification of past significant athletic participation within one of the major United States sports leagues
  • Verification of past significant athletic participation with a major U.S. university in intercollegiate athletics
  • A written statement from a sports league or governing body verifying the athlete’s international acclaim
  • Verification that the athlete has received a significant award, acknowledgement or honor

Additional Notes

  • As few as 2 people may make up an athletic team or entertainment group.
  • An athlete holding a P-1 visa is allowed to perform for regular payment and/or prize money, and can perform services for many different employers. In the case of additional employers, each must submit their own petition to utilize the athlete’s services.
  • The P-1 visa is not restricted to the actual athletic completion, but promotional appearances, stopovers, and short vacations related to the athletic activity.
  • Minor dependents and spouses may be granted a P-4 visa so that they may accompany the P-1 visa to the U.S. for the same duration.

For more information on the P-1 Visa, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online. Also visit our P-1 Visa section for more information.

Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2014 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.