The P-1 Visa: Athletes and Sports Teams

The P-1 visa is issued to an individual athlete or a team of athletes that is traveling to the United States to participate in an internationally recognizable competition or event. USCIS defines internationally recognizable as “having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country.” Support personnel of an athlete may also be eligible to receive a P-1 visa for the duration of the athlete’s stay.

Individual athletes on a P-1 visa must obtain a high level of achievement within the sport that they are affiliated with. The athlete must be formally invited to participate in the international event and obtain ordinary skills that are recognized in multiple countries. This international recognition can stem from their athletic achievements or awards that have been previously granted. An athlete on a P-1 visa is permitted to reside in the United States until the completion of their event, up to 5 years. If the event or competition is not completed in this duration of time, increments up to 5 years may be requested for a total of 10 years.

An athletic team that enters on P-1 visas must be a internationally recognized team that is participating in an event where their international participation is required. Team members may not participate in activities that are separate from their original team obligations set prior to traveling to the US. Teams can remain in the US until their competition or event is completed or for the duration of one year. Increments up to one year are feasible for extended time until the team completes their agenda. During their time in the US, athletes may choose to academically study and may also receive compensation for the event that they are participating in.

US employers will file an I-129 along with supporting documents for individuals and team members to receive a P-1 visa. Supporting evidence can include information such as proof of ranking or received of honors that the team has been granted. Along with an I-129 and supporting evidence documents, a consultation from a labor organization will be attached providing the work that an athlete will be accomplishing in the US along with their skills and qualifications that deem that fit for a P-1 visa. If there is not an appropriate labor organization readily available, the consultation requirement will be waived. During their time in the US, an athlete may choose to work for various employers. As this duel sponsorship is permitted, separate I-129’s must be filed per employer.

Support personnel that are vital components to an athlete or team’s success in the US may be granted admission into the US for a year with allowance of increments up to 5 years, totaling 10 years. Support personnel may include trainers or coaches that are performing duties that cannot be replicated by workers already in the US. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also be permitted to travel with their family member by submitting a P-4 visa. Spouses and children are permitted to study during the duration in the United States, but may not work.

For questions regarding the next step to receiving a P-1 visa, please contact your D’Alessio Law Group professional.

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