P-1A Visas for Athletes

As an athlete or representative of an athletic team who has been invited to the United States for an athletic competition, you might have been wondering what your immigration options would be. Well, conveniently, there is a special visa category for athletes and athletic teams. The P-1 visa was created to allow athletes or athletic teams to travel to the United States in order to take part in internationally recognized sports competitions.

However, the requirements of the P-1 visa application can be very demanding. Our immigration lawyers have dealt with hundreds of these applications, and they know what it takes to get an approval. We credit our high success rate to the fact that every one of our clients’ visa application is prepared by and thoroughly reviewed by one of our skilled immigration lawyers. An immigration lawyer from our firm in Beverly Hills will dedicate the necessary time and resources to make sure that your application fulfills all of the various requirements of the P-1 visa.

We provide this article as a summary of most requirements of the P-1 visa, but it should not serve as a substitute for speaking to one of our immigration lawyers. The various requirements of the P-1 visa can seem complex to the regular individual, not only because of the language, but because some of the words carry a legal standard that must be proven with a certain quantum of legal evidence.

For an individual candidate of the P-1 visa, the standard is that the athlete must be proven to have a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered in the sport. The achievement of the individual must be so high that they are renowned, leading or well known in more than one country. An immigration lawyer from our firm will advise you on the pieces of evidence that would make your case most likely to be approved by an immigration official. Some examples of pieces of evidence that could be used are the following: evidence of extensive participation in an international competition with a national team, evidence of having participated in a previous season with a US college team, or evidence of having participated in a previous season with a US professional team. Our immigration lawyers also like to add in any stats that you might have credited to your accomplishment. If your nation has international ranking or statistics, that could be used to bolster your P-1 visa application greatly. Finally, if the P-1 visa applicant has received any significant honors or awards for achievements, then our immigration lawyers will include that award in the petition for the P-1 visa.

To qualify for the P-1 visa, the athletic team must also be internationally recognized (well-known in more than one country), and they must be traveling to the United States in order to participate in sports competitions. An immigration attorney from our firm will ask for your team’s background and any significant achievements that the team has made. Some pieces of evidence that will qualify an athletic team for the P-1 visa are: evidence of participating in an international competition as a team, evidence of having participated to a significant extent in intercollegiate competitions, evidence that your team is ranked (if the sport has international rankings), or evidence of having receiving a significant honor.

There also has to be evidence that the team is internationally recognized. Our immigration attorneys are experts when it comes to proving this legal standard, because of our extensive experience of working with immigration cases. While being in any international competition could help to prove your team’s international acclaim, one of the best ways to really impress immigration authorities reviewing the P-1 visa application is by getting a written statement from one of the following sources.

One of the pieces of evidence that can be submitted is a written statement from an official of a sports team from the US or an official from the governing body of the sport that attests to the fact that your team is internationally recognized, and the statement should describe in detail how your team is internationally recognized. Our immigration lawyers piece together different pieces of proof in order to synthesize a complete story about the visa applicants. Another piece of evidence that is acceptable is a written statement from a journalist or other representative of sports media that details how your team is internationally recognized. The last type of written statement is from a recognized expert of sports, who will testify to the fact that your team is internationally recognized and provide some details as to how your team is renowned in more than one country.

Please allow one of our immigration attorneys to hear your whole story, and they will be able to tell you about the full range of options you have as far as immigration is concerned. Immigrating to the United States can be a difficult journey, because the entire process is tied with frustrating red tape. An immigration attorney can be your best ally throughout this process, as well as a trusted counselor and advisor. Our immigration attorneys are highly skilled, knowledgeable and experienced at handling these P-1 visas, and they will do everything in their power to make sure that your goals are accomplished.

The P-1A visa is for an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition at an internationally recognized level of performance.

Individual Athletes

As an individual Athlete you must be coming to the United States to participate in an individual event, competition or performance in which you are internationally recognized with a high level of achievement; evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country.

Athletic Teams

You must be coming to the United States to participate in team events and must have achieved significant international recognition in the sport. The event in which your team is participating must be distinguished and require the participation of athletic teams of international recognition.

Petition

In addition to a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization, the eligibility criteria must include substantiated evidence with respect to at least two of the following:

  • Participation of significant extent in a prior season with a major U.S. league;
  • Participation in international competition with a national team;
  • Participation in a prior season for a U.S. intercollegiate competition;
  • A written statement from a major U.S. sports league or a governing body of the sport detailing your team’s international recognition;
  • A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details your team’s international recognition;
  • Evidence that you or your team is ranked, if the sport has international rankings;
  • Evidence that you or your team has received a significant honor or award.

Essential Support Personnel

Essential Support Personnel who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1 athlete (team) and who perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker, are eligible for P-1 classification. Support personnel may include coaches, scouts, trainers and other team officials and referees. This is a separate petition.

Family of P-1A Visa Holders

Spouses and unmarried children of the P-1A under the age of 21 may obtain P-4 status however they may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college.

Period of Stay

For individual athletes the period of stay is generally the time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 5 years. For athletic groups the period of stay is the time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 1 year. For the essential support personnel the period of stay is the time needed to complete the event, activity, or performance, and may not exceed 1 year.

Mr. Galstyan, an experienced immigration attorney, has successfully handled hundreds of P-1A visa cases. Our firm has the ability and experience to help you in getting your P-1A visa. We prepare and file your petition along with the required documentation as well as supporting evidence to ensure that your case is approved with the USCIS. Please contact our office for your free, no obligation consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer.

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