A P-1 visa is a type of temporary nonimmigrant visa that enables foreign-born nationals to enter into the United States solely for the purposes of performing in a specific athletic or entertainment competition and/or event.
Within the P-1 visa category, there are two separate classifications: a P-1A visa and a P1-B visa. The difference between the two is that a P-1A visa is generally reserved for international athletes, whereas a P-1B visa may be issued to a member of a foreign entertainment group.
Accordingly, you may be eligible to apply for a P-1A visa if you are:
- An individual athlete who is recognized throughout the world for your athletic abilities in a particular sport;
- A professional athlete with an established reputation throughout the world;
- An amateur or professional athlete who is touring or starring in an ice skating production as either part of an ice skating team or in an individual capacity;
- Part of an athletic group or team that has achieved international recognition in a certain sport;
- An amateur athlete or coach who is part of a team that is located in the United States and also a member of a foreign sports league or association; and/or
- An essential member of a renowned athlete’s support team (e.g., trainer, agent, scout, referee, etc.).
On the other hand, you may be eligible to apply for a P-1B visa if you are:
- Staying in the United States for the purposes of temporarily performing as a member of an entertainment group that:
- Has already been established for a minimum of one full year,
- Has a 75% membership rate of group members who have been affiliated with the group for at least one full year; and is
- Internationally recognized as outstanding within their entertainment discipline.
- Alternatively, you may also qualify for a P-1B visa if you are a foreign-born circus performer or essential circus personnel that is either individually well-known or is joining a nationally recognized circus organization.
It is important to note that there are many different categories of P visas, meaning that there are P visas available for more than just athletes and members of a globally recognized entertainment group. Some other types of individuals or groups who may qualify for a P visa include:
- Applicants who are eligible for a P-2 visa, such as performers, actors, artists, entertainers, or musicians who are performing temporarily as part of a group or as an individual under a cultural exchange program;
- Applicants who are eligible for a P-3 visa, such as artists or entertainers who are temporarily performing, coaching, teaching, interpreting, developing, or representing as either a group or an individual under a culturally unique program; and
- Applicants who are eligible for a P-4 visa, such as the spouse of any of the parties listed above or a dependent child of such parties.
For the purposes of this article, however, we will only be discussing P-1 visas for internationally based athletes or members of a group. Thus, the term P-1 in this instance, will mostly refer to those who hold either a P-1A or a P-1B visa. All other types of P visas are classified accordingly (e.g., P2, P3, P4, etc.).
Aside from being able to compete or perform in certain events or competitions, a P-1 visa may also provide a number of other important benefits to its holder, such as:
- The holder of a P-1 visa will be allowed to perform for prize money and/or payment;
- A P-1 visa holder is allowed to travel freely throughout the United States as well as abroad, so long as the P-1 visa is not expired;
- The holder of a P-1 visa will be eligible to apply for a green card or lawful permanent resident status;
- A P-1 visa holder will be allowed to participate in some part-time study programs; and
- Depending on the type of P-1 visa, it can remain valid for a period of up to five years and may be extended for a maximum of no longer than ten years (i.e., only for those who have a P-1A visa). This means that the holder will be allowed to stay in the United States for the authorized extent of time between those ranges.
- In contrast, P-1B visa holders can only remain in the United States for as long as the event or competition takes and is not to exceed a period of one full year. Additionally, visa extensions will only be allowed in one-year increments.
To learn more about P-1 visas or to find out whether you qualify for one of the eligibility categories required to apply for a P-1 visa, you should speak to a local immigration attorney for further legal advice.