P-1 Visas for Athletes and Entertainers

Purpose / Petition Requirement / P-1 Athletes and Performers / P-1 Entertainment Group / P-2 Artistic Exchange Program / P-3 Culturally Unique Program / Support Personnel / Family Members

Purpose of P Visa Classification

The P classification is for athletes, entertainers, and artists who seek to temporarily visit the United States for a specific event, competition, or performance.

P Visa Petition Requirement

All P visas require the filing of Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, by a U.S. employer or agent, or by a foreign employer on behalf of the beneficiary. The petition should include any written contracts between the petitioner and the beneficiary, or summaries of any oral contracts. Other evidence should be filed with the petition to prove the level of achievement of the beneficiary. Such evidence may include affidavits, awards, and expert opinions.

For all P petitions, petitioners must submit an advisory opinion from an appropriate labor union. The advisory opinion must describe the work or services to be performed in the United States and the beneficiary’s qualifications for such work. If no appropriate labor union exists, this requirement is excused. A written opinion is also not required in cases where USCIS obtains the opinion telephonically.

If the petitioner is a U.S. employer or agent, the petition should be filed at the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the employer or agent. If the petitioner is a foreign employer, it should be filed with the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the place the beneficiary will be employed.

P-1 Visas for Athletes and Performers

The Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers, and Teams through Legal Entry (COMPETE) Act of 2006 expanded the P-1 nonimmigrant classification to include certain minor league athletes and ice skaters that were not previously admissible under the P-1 category.

The following athletes and performers may qualify for a P-1 visa:

An athlete, who performs as an individual or as part of a group, at an internationally recognized level of performance;

A professional athlete, employed by:

  • A team that is a member of an association of six or more professional sports teams whose combined revenue exceeds $10,000,000 and who regulates the competitions in which its member teams engage; or any minor league team affiliated with such an association.
  • A coach or athlete performing with sports teams in the United States that are part of an international sports league or association if:
  • The foreign league is operating at the highest level of amateur performance in the foreign country;
  • Participating in the foreign league makes players ineligible for to play the sport at a college or university in the United States, under the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association; and
  • A significant number of players in the foreign minor league are usually drafted by affiliated U.S. major or minor leagues.
  • Amateur or professional ice skaters who perform, individually or as part of a group, in theatrical ice skating productions or tours.

P-1 athletes are admitted for a period of up to five years with one extension up to five years. P-1 athletes may pursue permanent residency and file for adjustment of status.

P-1 Visas for an Entertainment Group

In addition to applying to certain athletes, the P-1 classification applies to persons who seek to come to the United States to perform as a member of an entertainment group that is internationally recognized as outstanding in its area.

A person applying for a P-1 visa as a member of an entertainment group must have a substantial relationship with the group (be integral to the group’s performance) and generally must have been part of the group for at least one year. A group may be as few as two members. At least 75 percent of the group’s members must have been together for a year or more.

A group is internationally recognized if it has "a high level of achievement … evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent such achievement is renown leading or well-known in more than country."

Solo artists generally must apply for an O-1 visa. However, if a solo artist performs with backup singers and musicians, the act may be classified as a group, as long as 75 percent of its members have been together for at least one year.

P-2 Visas for Artistic Exchange

The P-2 classification is for artists or entertainers who will perform, individually or as part of a group, under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization is another country. The artists or entertainers participating in the exchange program must be of similar quality and be employed under similar working conditions.

P-2 visas are issued for the time necessary to complete the event, for up to one year. Extensions are available for a similar period.

P-3 Visas for Culturally Unique Programs

The P-3 classification is for artists or entertainers who perform, individually or as a group, and seek to come to the United States to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical or artistic performance or presentation.

P-3 visas are issued for the time necessary to complete the event, for up to one year. Extensions are available for a similar period.

Support Personnel for P Visa Holders

Persons coming to the United States to work as support personnel for P-1 athletes, entertainers, or artists are also given P-1 visas. Similarly, support personnel are allowed to accompany principal P-2 beneficiaries and are given P-2 status.

A person qualifies as support personnel if "he or she performs support services which cannot be readily performed by a United States worker and which are essential to the successful performance of services."

When applying for P-1 or P-2 status, support personnel must submit an opinion from a labor organization explaining the essential skill of the support personnel, a statement explaining why the support personnel is essential and describing the support personnel’s skills and prior experience with the principal P beneficiary, and a copy of the written contract for the support personnel’s services or a written summary of any oral contract.

Family Members

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 are eligible to accompany P visa holders in P-4 status. Persons with P-4 status are admitted for the same period as the principal P beneficiary. Persons with P-4 status may study but not work in the United States.