P-1 Visas

P-1A Internationally Acclaimed Athletes and P-1B Members of Entertainment Groups

Internationally acclaimed alien athletes who compete individually or as part of a team and internationally acclaimed alien entertainers who perform as part of a group including circus performers fall under the P-1 visa classification. The coverage of this category also extends to essential personnel of athletes and members of entertainment groups who form an integral part of the performance of the individual artist or entertainer. There are several subdivisions of the P visa classification. Here we will discuss two of those subdivisions: The P-1A visa for internationally acclaimed athletes and their essential support personnel and P-1B visa for members of internationally acclaimed entertainment groups including circus performers and essential personnel. Circus performers and essential circus personnel are exempt from the requirement of proving international acclaim.

Waiver of the International Acclaim Requirement

Certain nationally recognized entertainment groups are eligible for a waiver of the international acclaim requirement if it can be demonstrated that the group has received national acclaim for a sustained period of time.

P-1A Eligibility for Individual Athletes

Internationally acclaimed athletes coming to the United States for the purpose of performing temporarily at an athletic competition OR as part of an internationally acclaimed group or team fall under the P-1A visa category. To be eligible, aliens must demonstrate that during their temporary stay, they will participate in an individual or team event, competition, or performance that recognizes their notoriety and excellence in the discipline. The alien must demonstrate significant international recognition to the extent that they have achieved a significant level of notoriety through their skills, level of excellence, reputation, and experience in the participating sport. It is not sufficient for the alien to simply demonstrate that they are recognized on a national level. According to CIS, the achievement must be 1) renowned 2) leading or 3) well known in more than one country.

This classification may be granted to internationally acclaimed athletes based on their own reputation and achievements as individuals. In addition, the proposed event or competition must require the performance of an internationally acclaimed athlete. Once approved the P-1 alien can obtain their visa at a U.S. consulate overseas if they reside abroad.

P-1 Eligibility for Athletic Teams/Groups

In order to qualify for the P-1A classification, members of an athletic team must demonstrate that the team is recognized on an international level evidenced by the team’s reputation and the team’s excellence in the discipline. The alien must be coming to the United States temporarily to perform services that require such recognition. The event requiring the athlete’s performance must also demonstrate that the sport requires a level of distinction and participation of teams of international renown for that discipline.

P-1B Eligibility for Members of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group and Circus Performers

The P-1B visa classification applies to members of an internationally acclaimed entertainment group traveling to the United States for the purpose of performing as a member of the entertainment group. The individual achievements of members of the group are not to be considered. Instead, the reputation of the entertainment group as a whole is essential to this visa classification. Travel must be of a temporary nature for the purpose of performing. Circus performers and their essential personnel do not need to meet the requirement of international acclaim. Circus performers and their essential personnel must be traveling to the United States for the purpose of performing in a nationally recognized circus.

What does it mean to be an internationally acclaimed entertainment group? In order to be considered internationally acclaimed, the group must be considered ‘outstanding’ in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. The group’s recognition must be evidenced by a high level of skill or extraordinary acclaim. At least 75% of the members comprising the group must have a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year with the exception of circus performers and essential circus personnel. Individual entertainers do not qualify for the P-1B classification.

Essential Support Personnel of P-1 Aliens

Support personnel who form an integral part of the performance of either the P-1 athlete, team member, or entertainer and who are otherwise essential to the performance of the P-1 alien, can obtain a visa under the P-1 visa classification. Petitioner’s must demonstrate that the support person is highly skilled, essential to the performance of the P-1 alien, meets the qualifications to perform a support role, maintains critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed, maintains experience in providing the needed support to the P-1 alien, and demonstrate that he or she performs support services that cannot readily be performed by a U.S. worker. Support personnel may include coaches, scouts, trainers, team officials, and referees. Support persons cannot file a petition on their own behalf, instead the U.S. employer otherwise known as the ‘petitioner’ must file a separate USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker on their behalf.

The U.S. Employer/Petitioner should include the following supporting documents along with the alien’s petition:

  • Biographical documents of the alien such as copy of passport ID page, copies of current or previous U.S. visa ID pages, copy of alien’s I-94 arrival/departure record (if applicable);
  • Alien’s Resume or CV;
  • A consultation from the appropriate labor organization with expertise in the area of the support person’s skill;
  • A statement from the petitioner describing the person’s experience, critical skills, and essentially to the P-1 alien;
  • A copy of the written contract between the U.S. employer and support person describing the terms of the agreement or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement consented to by the alien;
  • Other relevant documentation to demonstrate the support personnel’s significant skill level in the area of expertise and experience performing the essential support services to the P-1 alien;
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P-1A Supporting Documents for Alien Athletes

The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the P-1A visa petition along with USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker and P Supplement for athletes competing individually or as part of a team. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case.

The list includes but is not limited to the following items:

  • Biographical documents of the alien such as a copy of passport ID page, copies of current or previous U.S. visa ID pages, copy of alien’s I-94 arrival/departure record (if applicable);
  • Alien’s Resume or CV;
  • The petitioner must provide a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the corresponding discipline (if applicable) describing the work or services to be performed in the United States and the alien’s qualifications necessary to perform the services;
  • Copy of the written contract between the U.S. employer and athlete describing the terms of the agreement consented to or summary of the oral agreement. A contract with a major U.S. sports league or team, or contract in an internationally recognized discipline is preferred;
  • Explanation of the event including itinerary;
  • At least two of the following documentation, the more information the stronger the case will be:
    1. Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season with a major US sport league;
    2. Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season for a US college or university in an intercollegiate competition;
    3. Written statement from an official of a major US sport league or official of the governing body of the sport detailing how you or your team is internationally recognized;
    4. Written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport detailing how you or your team is internationally recognized;
    5. Evidence that you or your team is ranked if the sport maintains international rankings;
    6. Evidence that you or your team has received a significant honor or award in the discipline;
    7. Evidence that the individual athlete or team competitors are also internationally recognized;
    8. Evidence that demonstrates that the event requires or has required participation by individuals of international renown;
P-1B Supporting Documents for Members of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups

The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the P-1B visa petition along with USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker and P Supplement for members of an entertainment group. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case.

The list includes but is not limited to the following items:

  • Biographical documents of the alien such as a copy of passport ID page, copies of current or previous U.S. visa ID pages, copy of alien’s I-94 arrival/departure record (if applicable);
  • Alien’s Resume or CV;
  • The petitioner must provide a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the corresponding discipline (if applicable) describing the work or services to be performed in the United States and the alien’s qualifications necessary to perform the services;
  • Copy of the written contract between the U.S. employer and alien describing the terms of the agreement consented to or summary of the oral agreement;
  • Explanation of the event including itinerary with dates and locations of performances;
  • At least three of the following documentation, the more information the stronger the case will be:
    1. Evidence that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least a year. Circus performers and essential personnel are exempted from this requirement;
    2. Statement from U.S. employer/petitioner with a list of membership in the group and dates of employment for each member;
    3. Evidence that the group has received international acclaim in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time such as receipt, nomination, international awards, honors, prizes, or outstanding achievement or at least three of the following (except circus performers and their essential personnel):
    4. Your group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
    5. Your 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;
    6. Your group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
    7. Your group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
    8. Your group has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field;
    9. Your group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial renumeration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
Stay and Extensions

The duration for which the P-1A and P-1B visa is issued is the time necessary to complete the specific competition, event, or performance. Initially individual athletes are issued visas of no more than 5 years and no more than 1 year for athletic teams, members of entertainment groups, and essential personnel. Extensions may be sought to continue performance in the competition or event for a maximum period of 10 years for individual athletes and essential personnel (applied for in 5 year increments), and up to 1 year for athletic teams and members of entertainment groups.

Dependents

The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of P-1 aliens can obtain P-4 derivative status. Dependents cannot seek employment, but can attend school or college under this classification.

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