How to Obtain and Qualify for a P-1 Athlete or Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group Visa
Qualifying and obtaining a P-1 Visa is a complex and fact specific process and the information below is a general overview. Please consult with an attorney at Theta Law Firm with your specific facts. An attorney is vital to help guide a potentially qualifying individual or group and their dependents through the process of obtaining a P-1 Visa in a timely fashion that will not disrupt or interfere with an event or your business.
Is the P-1 Visa for me?
The P-1 classification allows an individual having residence in a foreign country to come to the United States temporarily to perform services for an employer or sponsor. A P-1 classification encompasses the following major categories:
1. A person coming to the United States 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
2. A person coming to the United States to 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.
Requirements for P-1 Visa Filing
In order to obtain P-1 classification for an athlete or entertainment group a United States employer, a United States sponsoring organization, a United States agent, or a foreign employer through a United States agent must meet certain requirements and present evidence of such when filing an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. Note that if the person attempting to obtain P-1 classification will work for more than one employer at the same time, each employer must file a separate petition. The I-129 Petition MUST be submitted with all other below listed documentation in order to apply for P-1 classification.
The following documentation is necessary:
For An Athlete:
1. Copies of any written contracts between the athlete and the employee or sponsor, or if only an oral agreement exists, the terms of such an agreement;
- Evidence of the athlete having participated to a significant extent in a prior season with a major United States sports league;
- Evidence of the athlete having participated in an international competition with a national team;
- A written statement from an official of a major United States sports league or governing body of the sport describing how the athlete or team is internationally recognized (keep in mind the definition of internationally recognized as provided by statute above);
- Evidence of the athlete having been a part of a United States college or university intercollegiate competition in a prior season;
- A written statement from a member of sports media or a recognized expert in the sport describing how the athlete or team is internationally recognized (keep in mind the definition of internationally recognized and the fact that advances of new sports media may have significantly expanded this option);
- Evidence that the athlete or team is ranked, if there are international rankings for the sport;
- Evidence that the athlete or team has obtained a significant honor or award in the sport.
2. An explanation of the events or activities to be performed, including the dates of the events or activities, the locations, and a copy of any itinerary if one exists;
3. A written consultation from a labor organization (one would be advised to provide the labor organization with a copy of the Visa petition before filing in order to expedite the process and to make sure a positive advisory opinion will be able to be provided by the labor organization in a timely fashion);
4. Documentation of at least two of the following:
1. Copies of any written contracts between the entertainment group and the employee or sponsor, or if only an oral agreement exists, the terms of such an agreement;
- Evidence that the group has performed and will perform in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation
- Evidence that the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim based on reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other published materials;
- Evidence that the group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation based on articles, trade journals, magazines, etc;
- Evidence that the group has a record of commercial or critical successes, based on ratings, box office receipts, record sales and other achievements;
- Evidence that the group has achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, agencies, or experts in the field; or
- Evidence that the group has garnered a high salary or will garner a high salary or other payment for its services as compared to others in similar positions (based on contracts or other evidence).
2. An explanation of the events or activities to be performed, including the dates of the events or activities, the locations and a copy of any itinerary if one exists;
3. A written consultation from a labor organization (one would be advised to provide the labor organization with a copy of the Visa petition before filing in order to expedite the process and to make sure a positive advisory opinion will be able to be provided by the labor organization in a timely manner);
4. Evidence that the entertainment group has been established and performing on a regular basis for at least a year prior to the petition;
5. A listing of each member of the entertainment group and the exact dates from which each member has been employed on a regular basis by the group (75% of the members of the group must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for at least 1 year and must provide functions integral to the group's performance);
6. Evidence that the group has been internationally recognized for a sustained and substantial period of time. This can be shown by submission of evidence regarding the group having been nominated or receiving international awards or prizes or by three of the following different types of documentation:
Change of Employment
If while already in the United States a P-1 Visa holder wants to change employers or sponsors, the new employer or sponsor must file a new petition application and request to extend the petitioners stay. The petitioner cannot work or perform while this new petition is pending (there is a very limited exception for a traded athlete).
Length of Stay
Individual athletes that qualify under the P-1 Visa provisions are allowed an initial stay of up to five years. An extension may be granted to continue to compete in a particular event or competition for up to five more years. Total stay for an individual athlete is to not exceed ten years.
An athletic group or team that qualifies under the P-1 Visa provisions is allowed an initial stay of up to one year. An extension may be granted to continue to compete in an event or competition. These extensions are granted in one year increments.
An entertainment group that qualifies under the P-1 Visa provisions is allowed an initial stay of up to one year. An extension may be granted to complete an event or performance. These extensions are granted in one year increments.
Family of P-1 Qualifying Applicants
A spouse and any children under the age of 21 may accompany a P-1 Visa applicant so long as they obtain P-4 visa status. However, neither the spouse nor the child can work while accompanying a P-1 Visa applicant. Even so, any dependants can attend school or college.
Essential Support Alien
There is an additional provision in the P-1 Visa statute, granting P-1 Visa status to personnel that are highly skilled, essential persons determined to be an integral part of the performance of the athlete, athletic team, or entertainment group (examples could be group manager, coach, or specific trainer).
A separate I-129 form must be filed by an employer or sponsor on behalf of such support personnel. The following must be included as evidence accompanying the form:
1. Consultation from a labor organization with expertise in the support personnel's skill area;
2. A statement describing the support personnel's essentiality, skills, and experience with the P-1 Visa performer, athlete, or team they are accompanying;
3. A copy of any written contract or summary of the terms of any oral agreement between the essential support personnel and the employer.
If you do not specifically fit into the P-1 category, feel free to contact Theta Law Firm in order to determine if another visa may be right for you.
 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p).
 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p)(3).
 Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker may be found at: http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-129.pdf.
 Requirements are set out in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p).
 Requirements are set out in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p).
 Requirements are set out in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(p).
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