P1 Visa: Suitable for Athletes, Coaches, Music Bands and Entertainers

P1 Visa Classification as an Athlete in an individual capacity:

A P1 Visa classification may be granted to an alien who is an internationally recognized athlete based on his or her own reputation and achievements as an individual. The Alien must be coming to the United States to perform services which require an internationally recognized athlete.

Validity Period

An approved petition for an individual athlete classified under the P1 visa regulations, shall be valid for a period up to 5 years.

P1 Visa for Entertainment Group or Athletic Team:

An entertainment group or athletic team consists of two or more persons who function as a unit. The athletic team or entertainment group as a unit must be internationally recognized as outstanding in its discipline and must be coming to perform services which require an internationally recognized entertainment group or athletic team. A person who is a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group or athletic team may be granted P1 visa classification based on that relationship, but they may not perform services separate and apart from the entertainment group or athletic team.

The entertainment group must have been established for a minimum of one year, and 75% of its members must have been performing entertainment services for the group for a minimum of 1 year, (Subject to the special regulatory provision which provides a limited exception for entertainment groups where the Director of USCIS may waive the special one year relationship requirements where due to illness or other exigent circumstances, one or more members had to be replaced, 8 CFR §214.2(p)(4)(iii)(C)(3)).

Validity Periods

An approved petition for an athletic team classified under the P1 visa regulations shall be valid for the period of time determined by the Director of USCIS to complete the competition or event for which the alien team is being admitted, not to exceed 1 year.

An approved petition for an Entertainment group under the P1 visa regulations shall also be valid for a period of time determined by the Director of USCIS to be necessary to complete the performance or event for which the group is being admitted, but not to exceed one year.

P1 Visa Requirements for individual athletes and teams

Evidentiary Requirements for an internationally recognized athlete or athletic team:

A petition for an athletic team must be accompanied by evidence that the team as a unit has achieved international recognition in the sport. Each member of the team is accorded P1 visa classification based on the international reputation of the team. A petition for an athlete who will compete individually or as a member of a U.S. team must be accompanied by evidence that the athlete has achieved international recognition in the sport based on his or her reputation. A petition for a P1 visa athlete or athletic team shall include:

1. A tendered contract with a major United States sports league or team, or a tendered contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in that sport, if such contracts are normally executed in the sport, and

2. Documentation of at least two of the following:

  • Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season with a major United States sports league;
  • Evidence of having participated in international competition with a national team;
  • Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season for a U.S college or university in intercollegiate competition;
  • A written statement from an official of a major U.S. sports league or an official of a governing body of the sport which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized;
  • A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized;
  • Evidence that the individual or team is ranked if the sport has international rankings; or
  • Evidence that the alien or team has a received a significant honor or award in the sport

P1 Visa Self Petition Not Permitted:

Individual entertainment groups may not file a P1 visa petition on behalf of itself as the Petitioner, but must be petitioned by a third party sponsor or employer. P1 visa petitions may only be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S sponsoring organization, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.

Sponsors, Agents and Employers:

Due to the nature of the entertainment business and the very seldom occasion for an entertainment group to have just one employer it reports to, USCIS appears to have acknowledged this reality via its regulatory authorities by authorizing entertainment groups to be petitioned by other potential sponsors besides an employer. For the general rule otherwise states that an entertainment group must have a P Visa petition filed by each and every separate employer from whom it receives compensation in exchange for its performances. Given the impracticality of this requirement in most cases, USCIS has afforded entertainment groups the right to be petitioned by U.S. sponsoring organizations, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.

In November of 2009, a memorandum was published by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in an attempt at clarifying the standards for adjudicating O and P petitions filed by a Petitioner acting as a U.S Agent for a Beneficiary or Beneficiaries who will be working for more than one employer within the same time period of the visa’s validity period.

While the November memorandum specifically states that any U.S. agent who petitions for foreign based entertainment groups or band must be “in business as an agent”, the definition provided as to what constitutes “in business does not entail a requirement that the U.S. based agent show that it has in the past been in the business of representing entertainers as that term of agent is typically understood in the entertainment industry.

The memorandum states instead that the Agent only need be granted the authority by the separate employers to act as the Agent for the entertainment group for the only purpose of filing the instant P status or visa petition. Given this vague nature of the regulation and the further uncertain interpretation provided in memoranda, it is advisable that one seek the consultation of one of our experienced attorneys to guide you in deciding this and other matters pertaining to the P status and visa petitions.

“Helping you to obtain the right visa, when you need it”

When you contact our firm for an initial consultation, we will take the time to educate and explain the immigration laws, regulations and the visa application procedures for your particular case. As a client, you will receive personal attention and work directly with an experienced attorney who will be able to answer any questions you have and keep you informed and aware of new developments as your case moves forward.

For all of your legal immigration needs, contact the immigration lawyers of Muston & Jack, P.C., at our San Francisco, San Jose or Pasadena California law offices to schedule an initial consultation.

  • Gabriel Jack helped us apply for an O-1 Visa, when we needed to change visa status and we got it! The documentation required for an O-1 visa is extensive but we managed to complete everything together with Gabriel in about 4 weeks. Gabriel is very professional and knows what is important and he is also easy to talk to and helpful. We are very pleased and will use Gabriel again should there be a need.
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  • Gabriel did a good job. He was easy to deal with, returned calls and did what he said he would – nice change from some lawyers I’ve dealt with. My E3 was approved with no trouble at all…and he’s a really nice person, which is a good bonus. Thanks Gabe!!
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  • We had previously shopped around for an immigration lawyer, but we went with Gabriel. He was very knowledgeable, friendly, and thorough. He was able to help us to prepare a very detailed interview packet, and we got our E2 visa at the end of the interview.
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