P-1 Artists, Athletes, and Entertainers

P-1 visa on a usa flag backgroundGenerally, the P-1 visa is suitable for individual or team athletes that are internationally recognized. This means 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. The athlete must enter the US to participate in a competition, event, or performance. This includes promotional appearances and can also include several seasons.

There are several types of P visa holders:

A P-1 is a person who enters the U.S. to:

  • Perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance, or
  • Perform with, or as an integral and essential part of the performance of, an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as being outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time, and who has had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (ordinarily for at least 1 year) and provides functions integral to the performance of the group.

A P-2 is a person who is coming temporarily to the U.S. to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, or to perform as an integral part of the performance of such a group, and who seeks to perform under a reciprocal exchange program which is between an organization or organizations in the United States and an organization or organizations in one or more foreign states, and which provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers, or groups of artists and entertainers.

A P-3 is a person who is an artist or entertainer who is coming temporarily to the U.S., either individually or as part of a group, or as an integral part of the performance of the group, to perform, teach, or coach under a commercial or noncommercial program that is culturally unique.

The law defines some terms used for P classification to provide clarity:

Arts includes fields of creative activity or endeavor such as, but not limited to, fine arts, visual arts, and performing arts.

Competition, event, or performance  means an activity such as an athletic competition, athletic season, tournament, tour, exhibit, project, entertainment event, or engagement. Such activity could include short vacations, promotional appearances for the petitioning employer relating to the competition, event, or performance, and stopovers which are incidental and/or related to the activity. An athletic competition or entertainment event could include an entire season of performances. A group of related activities will also be considered an event. In the case of a P-2 petition, the event may be the duration of the reciprocal exchange agreement. In the case of a P-1 athlete, the event may be the duration of the alien’s contract.

Contract means the written agreement between the petitioner and the beneficiary(ies) that explains the terms and conditions of employment. The contract shall describe the services to be performed, and specify the wages, hours of work, working conditions, and any fringe benefits.

Culturally unique means a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium which is unique to a particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group of persons.

Essential support alien means a highly skilled, essential person determined by the Director to be an integral part of the performance of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien because he or she performs support services 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 alien. Such alien must have appropriate qualifications to perform the services, critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed, and experience in providing such support to the P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien.

Group means two or more persons established as one entity or unit to perform or to provide a service.

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

Member of a group means a person who is actually performing the entertainment services.

Sponsor means an established organization in the United States which will not directly employ a P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien but will assume responsibility for the accuracy of the terms and conditions specified in the petition.

Team means two or more persons organized to perform together as a competitive unit in a competitive event.

What steps are involved in the processing of a P-1?

A U.S. employer must file a petition with USCIS, and the petition must include evidence of the athlete’s international recognition. Each P-1 case must be well documented with supporting evidence proving that all legal requirements are met. The petitions usually include the following evidence:

  • International ranking
  • Significant honors/awards in the sport
  • Written statement from the sports media or a recognized expert
  • Written statement from a major US sports league or official of the sport’s governing body (in both the US and the athlete’s home country, at the very least)
  • Participation in international competition with a national team
  • Significant participation in a prior US major league

Filing Fees and Processing Times

Processing times for a P-1 petition vary depending backlogs at the USCIS. Premium processing is available.

How long can the P-1 Athlete remain in the US?

Individual athletes may be admitted for up to 5 years initially. Extensions of up to 5 years are allowed.

If you are an Artist, Athlete or Entertainer looking for a P Visa, contact the Arizona Immigration Attorneys at JCL Immigration today.