What is the P1 visa?
The P1 Visa is for both internationally and nationally recognized athletes and entertainers. This is a non-immigrant visa type and was created to allow athletes from overseas to enter the US and participate in US athletic programs. It was also created with the intention that it would allow international athletes to promote themselves and their sport within the US.
The P1 Visa is also applicable to individuals and/or groups of entertainers, who are wanting to enter the US from Canada to participate in entertainment programs, competitions, and other such activities. Whilst in the US on a P1 Visa, you will be able to partake in part-time study whilst residing in the US.
This visa usually only allows a maximum initial stay period of up to 5 years, however, this can vary depending on your individual circumstances. The visa is able to be extended, but only for up to a maximum of 10 years. If you wish to extend your stay in the US beyond your allocated 10-year timeframe, you will need to look at applying under a different visa status.
What are the requirements for a P1 visa?
The P1 Visa can be split into two categories:
- The P1A Visa: This visa is for individuals or ethnic groups that are internationally recognized
- The P1B Visa: This visa is for individuals or groups of entertainers that are internationally recognized
To be eligible for the P1 visa, you must meet specific criteria of requirements such as having a sponsor and only staying in the US for a temporary period of time. When applying for a P1 visa, the following criteria must be met:
- If you are traveling within a group, your team must have been formed at least one year before the application was submitted
- At least 75% of the members of the group or team must have had a stable place in the group for at least one year before the application is submitted
- The activity you are going to the US to partake in must be internationally recognized
- The individual or the group as an entirety must have a high level of recognition. As part of a group, recognition must be of the group as a whole, and not based on the individual achievement of specific members within the group.
Who is eligible for a P1 Visa?
The P1 Visa can be obtained by an individual, or a group of people who are working in the entertainment or sports industry and have gained international recognition. Support personnel who are in an essential role in the performance of the entertainer and/or athlete may also be eligible for this visa. This may include people in roles such as being a trainer, a team official, or a coach. Entertainers performing under a culturally unique program are not eligible for this visa, and should instead apply for a P3 Visa.
If you are a holder of a P1 Visa, you may take part in both sporting and entertainment events. However, if you pursue this visa as part of a group, you will not be able to perform or compete as an individual while in the US.
What are the requirements for each type of P1 visa?
Eligibility criteria may differ between the P1A and P1B Visa. For example, those applying for a P1A visa will need to meet at least two of the following criteria:
- The applicant must have participated in a major US sports league
- The applicant must have participated in a US College, university, or intercollegiate sports league
- The applicant must have participated in a national or international level competition or event
- The applicant must be nationally or internationally ranked in a high position within your field of expertise
- The applicant must have obtained a national or international award for your excellence within your field of expertise
If you are an entertainer wishing to obtain a P1B Visa, you must meet at least two of the following criteria:
- You must have had major success in records, box office sales, video sales, or ratings
- You must have had achievements outlined in major news outlets for trade journals
- You must have had recognition from government agencies, critics, or other experts in the field, who are able to testify to your individual or group achievements
- You must have had a high salary and good compensation from the activity that you partake in, and be able to provide evidence of this remuneration
Applying for a P1 Visa
Applicants of a P1 Visa will need to be sponsored by an employer or organization within the US. The sponsor must start the application by filing a Form I-129 no more than six months before the scheduled performance in the activity that you partake in. In regards to groups, employers are able to submit either a joint application as a whole or an individual application for each member of the group.
In addition to the main petition form, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) will need to review the following documents:
- Consultation with an accredited labor organization
- An itinerary of the event
- Evidence that proves your individual reputation, or your group’s international reputation
- For groups, proof that you have been formed and established as a group for at least one year prior to the visa application
Once your petition form has been approved, you can then submit a Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). You will then need to schedule an appointment for your visa interview, where you will get the opportunity to explain the rationale and reasons for your trip to the US, as well as prove your character.
How long does it take to get a P1 Visa?
As a general rule of thumb, the whole process from beginning to the end of obtaining a P1 Visa can take between three to six months. If you need faster results, you can pay the $2,500 fee for premium processing, which will allow you to receive a decision within 15 days.
Processing of Form I-129 may take between two to eight weeks to start off the application process. This timeframe depends on how busy the USCIS are, and if they have a backlog. Once this has been approved, you can immediately submit Form DS-160, and schedule your interview, which can usually be booked for a couple of weeks in advance.
The key to having a faster application is by making sure that you have all of the required documentation and supporting files that have been requested. Missing or forgetting anything off the checklist will cause further delays in the application process, and could result in a rejected visa application.
How long can you stay in the US on a P1 Visa?
Unlike most other visas, the P1 Visa does not have a set authorized length of time that you can stay in the US. Your initial permitted stay is based upon how much time you will need to complete the activity within the US that is originally bringing you to the country.
As a general rule, however, you will not be able to remain in the US for more than five years on the P1 Visa, unless you apply for an extension. The extension may grant you up to 5 more years on top of your original five years day, totaling 10 years in the US on the one visa.
Athletes: In regards to athletes, individuals can be granted a maximum five-year visa. However, if you apply as part of a group, the maximum time you can initially stay is for one year, which can then only be extended in further one-year increments.
Entertainers: Individual entertainers of groups will also be granted a P1 Visa for a maximum of a one-year initial stay period, and can be extended in one-year increments if required.
Essential personnel: The essential personnel for both athletes and entertainers will have an initial stay of one year, but they can also extend it by up to 5 years to reach a maximum stay time of 10 years in total on a P1 Visa.
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P1 visa holders may bring immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old) with them to the United States by applying for a P4 visa.
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