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P-1A: Athlete

What is the P-1A Athlete Nonimmigrant Visa?

The P-1A classification applies to you if you are coming temporarily to the United States solely for the purpose of performing at a specific athletic competition as:

  • An individual athlete at an internationally recognized level of performance;

  • Part of a group or team at an internationally recognized level of performance;

  • A professional athlete; or

  • An athlete or coach, as part of a team or franchise that is located in the United States and a member of a foreign league or association.

In addition, the P-1A classification also applies to professional or amateur athletes coming temporarily to the United States solely to perform in a specific theatrical ice skating production or tour, individually or as part of a group.

What is the Eligiblity Criteria for the P-1A Nonimmigrant Visa?

Internationally Recognized Individual Athlete

You must be coming to the United States to participate in a specific athletic competition in a sport in which you are internationally recognized. You are internationally recognized if you have a high level of achievement in a sport, demonstrated by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. Your achievement must be renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country. The competition(s) you wish to participate in must have a distinguished reputation and require the participation of internationally recognized athletes.

Internationally Recognized Athletic Teams

You must be coming to the United States to participate in an athletic competition with a team that, as a unit, has achieved international recognition in the sport. The competition in which your team is participating must have a distinguished reputation and require the participation of internationally recognized athletic teams.

Professional Athletes

You must be coming to the United States to be employed as an athlete by:

  • A team that is a member of an association of six or more professional sports teams whose total combined revenues exceed $10 million per year. The association must govern the conduct of its members and regulate the contests and exhibitions in which its member teams regularly engage; or

  • Any minor league team that is affiliated with such an association.

Amateur Athletes or Coaches

You must be coming to the United States to perform as an athlete or coach as part of a team or franchise that is located in the United States and a member of a foreign league or association. The foreign league or association must meet the following requirements:

  • The league or association must consist of 15 or more amateur sports teams; 

  • Participation in the league must make players temporarily or permanently ineligible under National Collegiate Athletic Association rules to:​​​​

- Earn a scholarship in the sport at a U.S. college or university; or

- Participate in the sport at a u.S. college or university;

  • The league or association must be the highest level of amateur performance of that sport in the relevant foreign country; and

  • A significant number of the individuals who play in the league or association are drafted by a major sports league or a minor league affiliate.

Theatrical Ice Skaters

 

You must be coming to the United States to participate in a specific theatrical ice skating production or tour as a professional or amateur athlete who performs individually or as part of a group.

What is the Application Process for the P-1A Athlete Nonimmigrant Visa?

 

In order for you to come to the United States in this classification, your U.S. employer, agent, or sponsor must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker for you and submit the appropriate fee and supporting documentation. Your U.S. employer, agent, or sponsor must also file Form I-129 to extend your stay in or to request a change of status to P-1A classification.

 

If a U.S. agent will be filing Form I-129 for you to work for multiple employers while in the United States, the agent must establish that he or she is authorized to act as an agent for all of your employers.

What Evidence Must I Submit for the P-1A Athlete Nonimmigrant Visa?

 

Your employer, agent, or sponsor, must submit all of the following required documents with your Form I-129:

  • A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization. More information on labor organizations can be found on the Address Index for I-129 O and P Consultation Letters page. The consultation must describe the work or services to be performed in the United States and your qualifications for such work. The labor organization may also submit a letter of no objection to the approval of the petition. If no appropriate labor organization exists, this requirement is excused;

  • Copies of any written contracts or summaries of the terms of oral agreements containing the terms of your employment;  

  • An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities; and

  • Any additional documents required for your specific P-1A category below.

If I am an Internationally Recognized Individual or Team Seeking a P-1A Visa What Evidence Do I Need?

You must submit a copy of a tendered contract with a major U.S. sports league or team, or in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in the sport, if such contracts are normally utilized in the sport, and 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 the governing body of the sport which details how you or your team is internationally recognized;

  • A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details how you or your team is internationally recognized;

  • Evidence that you or your team is ranked, if the sport has international rankings; or

  • Evidence that you or your team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.

If I am a Professional Athlete Seeking a P-1A Visa What Evidence Do I Need?

You must submit evidence that:

  • Establishes that you will be working for a team located in the United States that is a member of an association of six or more professional sports teams. This may include but is not limited to:

    • A list of approved participating teams prepared by the association or league;

    • Contracts, agreements or other documentation showing that the team is a member of the association or league;

    • Letter from the association or league detailing and confirming the team’s membership;

    • Articles, reviews or other documentation from established sports media outlets or sports media personnel showing the team is a member of a qualified league or association; or

    • Marketing and promotional material of the association or league that identifies its member teams.

  • Establishes that the total combined revenues of the association’s teams exceeds $10 million per year. This may include but is not limited to:

    • Tax documents;

    • Audited financial documents; or

    • Articles or reports in established media outlets that specifically reference revenues generated by teams in the association or league.

  • Establishes that the association governs the conduct of its members and regulates the contests and exhibitions in which its member teams regularly engage. This may include but is not limited to:

    • Association or league rules and bylaws;

    • Articles or reports in established media outlets that specifically discuss action taken by the association or league to regulate the contests and exhibitions; or

    • Statements from association or league officials who have the knowledge and authority to confirm the manner and extent to which the association or league regulates the contests and exhibitions.

 

If you will be working for a minor league team affiliated with an association that meets the requirements described above, you must establish that the minor league team has a qualifying affiliation. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Contracts or agreements;

  • Statements from association or league officials detailing and confirming the team’s affiliation;

  • Marketing and promotional material of the association or league that identifies the minor league team’s affiliation;

  • Other documentation showing the team is affiliated with a qualified league or association; or

  • Articles, reviews, or other documentation from established sports media outlets or sports media personnel showing the team is affiliated with a qualified league or association. 

If I am a Amateur Athlete or Coach Seeking a P-1A Visa What Evidence Do I Need?

Your employer, agent, or sponsor must submit evidence that you are coming to the United States to perform as an athlete or coach as part of a team or franchise located in the United States that is a member of a foreign league or association that meets the requirements listed in the Eligibility Criteria section of this page.

This evidence may include but is not limited to:

  • Reviews, articles, and reports from established sports media outlets showing the level of performance of the league or association; or

  • Contracts, copies of rules and by-laws, and other documentation from the league office showing the level of performance of the member teams.

If I am a Theatrical Ice Skater Seeking a P-1A Visa What Evidence Do I Need?

 

You must submit evidence that you will be performing individually or as part of a group in a theatrical ice skating production. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Reviews, critiques, and descriptions of the theatrical performance from established journals, newspapers, and other entertainment or sports media;

  • An itinerary or schedule of the performances; and

  • Evidence of your past accomplishments and awards.

Can Family of P-1A nonimmigrant Visa Holders Come to The United States of America?

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain P-4 nonimmigrant status. P-4 status does not authorize them to work in the United States but they may attend school or college. If these family members are already in the United States and seeking a change of status to or an extension of stay in P-4 classification, they may apply collectively, with fee, on a Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.

If I am an Essential Support Personnel for a P-1A Nonimmigrant Visa Holder May I Come to The United States of America?​

Essential support personnel are eligible for P-1S classification if they are an integral part of the performance of a P-1 nonimmigrant and perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker. Support personnel may include coaches, scouts, trainers, broadcasters, referees, linesmen, umpires, and interpreters.

The petitioner must file a separate Form I-129 for essential support personnel. 

 

The petition must include the following documents:

  • A consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the area of the essential support person’s skill;

  • A statement describing the essential support person’s prior and current essentiality, critical skills, and experience with the P-1 athlete or team (unless coming to work in a Major League Sport); and

A copy of a written contract between the employer and the essential support personnel or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the essential support personnel will be employed.

What Do I Do After I Apply for a P-1A Athlete Nonimmigrant Visa?

Once USCIS approves the Form I-129, you can apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

What is the Period of Stay & How Long is the Extension of Stay for a P-1A Athlete Nonimmigrant Visa?

The following is a breakdown that indicates how long a P-1 athlete, athletic group, or essential support personnel for a P-1A athlete or athletic group will initially be allowed to stay in the United States of America. It addition, the information provides how long you will be allowed to stay if you are granted an extension of stay in P-1 status.

Individual Athlete

Initial Period of Stay:

The time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance. This period of time cannot exceed 5 years.

Extension of Stay:

Increments of up to 5 years in order to continue or complete the event, competition, or performance.  Total stay is limited to 10 years.

Individual Athlete Essential Support Personnel

Initial Period of Stay:

The time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance. This period of time cannot exceed 1 year.

Extension of Stay:

Increments of up to 5 years in order to continue or complete the event, competition, or performance.  Total stay is limited to 10 years.

Athletic Group

Initial Period of Stay:

The time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance. This period of time cannot exceed 1 year.

Extension of Stay:

Increments of up to 1 years in order to continue or complete the event, competition, or performance. 

Athletic Group Essential Support Personnel

Initial Period of Stay:

The time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance. This period of time cannot exceed 1 year.

Extension of Stay:

Increments of up to 1 years in order to continue or complete the event, competition, or performance.  

What Happens if I am a P-1A Athlete Nonimmigrant Visa Holder Who Has a Change of Employer Because I have been Traded From Organization to Another Organization?

If you are a professional P-1 athlete who is traded from one organization to another organization, your employment authorization will automatically continue for a period of 30 days after acquisition by the new organization, within which time the new organization must file a new Form I-129 for P-1 nonimmigrant classification. If your new employer, agent, or sponsor files a new Form I-129 within 30 days, you will remain in valid P-1 status, and your employment continues to be authorized, until the petition is adjudicated. If your new employer, agent, or sponsor does not file a new Form I-129 or the new petition is denied, employment authorization will cease.

 

In all other situations, you may change employers, but the new employer, your agent, or your sponsor must first file a new Form I-129 with USCIS requesting permission to employ you and extend your stay. You may not start working for the new employer until USCIS has approved the new Form I-129.