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P-1 (Artists, Athletes and Entertainers)

P-1 (Artists, Athletes and Entertainers)

The P visa is reserved for those individuals who are coming to the U.S. as artists or to perform in athletics or entertainment, but who do not meet the stringent requirements of the O-1 extraordinary ability visa.

The P-1 for Athletes:

For team sports, the athletic team must have achieved international recognition in the particular sport and must petition for the individual athlete. For individual sports, the individual must show that he or she is internationally recognized.

The regulations define “international recognition” as a “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.” In addition to the athlete or team’s qualifications, the event or events in which the athlete is coming to the U.S. to participate must have a distinguished reputation and must require the participation of athletes or teams of international recognition.

The P-1 for Entertainers:

The P-1 visa is generally for individuals who are part of an entertainment group. Generally, an individual can only obtain a P-1 visa if he/she is coming to the U.S. to join a foreign entertainment group. The group must be internationally recognized as outstanding in the area, and have a sustained period of achievement. Also, the individual members must have a substantial relationship to the group, generally meaning at least one year. This requirement may be waived in exigent circumstances, and is not imposed on circus personnel, so long as the circus is of national recognition. The group itself must have been together for at least one year, and at least three-fourths of the members must have been in the group for at least a year.

How is the petition for a P-1 visa filed?

A P-1 petition may be filed by a U.S. employer or organization, a foreign employer, or by a U.S. agent. The petition must include any written contract between the alien and the petitioner, and/or a description of the event and an itinerary; and a consultation from a labor organization.

When the application is filed on behalf of an athlete or team, at least two of the following types of evidence need to be presented:

  • Participation to a significant extent in a prior season with a major U.S. sports league;
  • Participation on a national team at international events;
  • Participation to a significant extent in a prior season with a U.S. collegiate team;
  • A written statement from an official in the governing body of the sport outlining how the athlete or team is internationally recognized;
  • A written statement from a member of the sports media or other recognized expert outlining how the athlete or team is internationally recognized;
  • Evidence that the individual is highly ranked if the sport uses a ranking system; or
  • Evidence that the individual or team has received a significant award for performance.

When the application is being filed on behalf of an entertainment group, the petition must include details each individual in the group and his or her membership in the group. The petition must demonstrate the group’s sustained international recognition, either by nomination or receipt of awards for outstanding achievement in the field, or by submitting three of the following types of evidence:

  • The group has and will continue to perform a starring role in productions or events with a distinguished reputation, evidenced by reviews, advertisements, press releases, contracts, or endorsements;
  • The group has international recognition, evidenced by reviews in papers, trade journals, etc.;
  • The group has and will continue to perform a starring role in productions or events with a distinguished reputation, evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, etc.;
  • The group has had commercial success;
  • The group has gained significant recognition for achievements from leaders in the field; or
  • The group commands a high salary compared to others similarly situated.

The P-3 visa for culturally unique artists and entertainers:

P-3 visas are granted to artists and entertainers who come to the U.S. to participate in a “program that is culturally unique.” The statute does not make clear whether the performance that will be given must be culturally unique, or whether the performance must also be given in a setting that is culturally unique. While USCIS initially took the position that the program must be culturally unique, it has since relaxed the standards to allow issuance of P-3 visas so long as the performance that will be given is culturally unique. P-3 essential support personnel are also given P-3 visas.

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