P Visa for Athletes, Artists and Entertainers

P Visa for Athletes, Artists and Entertainers

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Last updated: April 8, 2024.

What is a P visa?

Basically, the P-1 visa classification is for entertainment groups, athletes, and sports teams that are already well-known.

The P-2 visa category, which isn’t used much, can be helpful for a small number of people who qualify through special agreements between unions, and for artists in groups.

If you’re an artist or a teacher with a unique cultural background, the P-3 category is the best choice for you. It’s designed for artists, both individuals and groups, as well as teachers and coaches who bring something special from their culture.

The P visa is divided into several subcategories, each tailored to a specific type of performance or activity:

  • P-1A Visa: For internationally recognized athletes and athletic teams coming to the U.S. to compete in a specific event or series of events. This category also includes individual athletes who have achieved a high level of recognition in their sport.
  • P-1B Visa: For members of internationally recognized entertainment groups, including musicians, singers, dancers, and other performers. The group as a whole must be internationally recognized, and the individual must possess skills integral to the group’s performance.
  • P-2 Visa: For artists and entertainers, as well as support personnel, who are part of reciprocal exchange programs between U.S. organizations and foreign organizations. This category aims to promote cultural exchange and collaboration.
  • P-3 Visa: For artists, entertainers, and performers who are coming to the U.S. to participate in a culturally unique or traditional program. This category is designed to promote cultural understanding and sharing.

The P visa application process generally involves the U.S. employer or sponsor filing a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

The requirements for each P visa category can vary, but in general, the applicant needs to demonstrate their qualifications, the significance of their work, and the reasons they are coming to the U.S. 

Additionally, a consultation from an appropriate labor union or peer group is often required to confirm the individual’s qualifications and the importance of their work.

It’s important to note that P visas are temporary visas, meaning they allow the individual to work in the U.S. for a specific period related to the event or activity for which they were granted the visa. Extensions can be possible in certain cases. 

P visa requirements

The specific requirements for each P visa type (P-1A, P-1B, P-2, and P-3) can vary, but here’s a general overview of the common requirements for each category:

P-1A Visa (Internationally Recognized Athletes and Athletic Teams):

  • The athlete or athletic team must have achieved international recognition and have a high level of expertise in their sport.
  • The athlete or team should be coming to the U.S. to participate in a specific competition, event, or performance.
  • Documentation of the athlete’s or team’s achievements, rankings, and reputation in the sport is required.

P-1B Visa (Members of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups):

  • The entertainment group must be internationally recognized for a sustained and substantial period.
  • The individual applying for the visa must be an integral part of the group’s performance and have a substantial relationship with the group.
  • Evidence of the group’s international recognition, such as awards, reviews, media coverage, and record of past performances, is necessary.

P-2 Visa (Artists and Entertainers in Reciprocal Exchange Programs):

  • There must be a reciprocal exchange program in place between a U.S. organization and a foreign organization.
  • The individual must have skills and expertise in the arts, entertainment, or related fields that are integral to the exchange program.
  • Documentation of the reciprocal exchange program agreement and the individual’s qualifications is required.

P-3 Visa (Artists and Entertainers in Culturally Unique Programs):

  • The program that the individual is coming to the U.S. to participate in must be culturally unique or traditional, promoting understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity.
  • The individual must have expertise in their cultural art form and must be coming to the U.S. to perform, teach, or demonstrate their art.
  • Documentation of the cultural uniqueness of the program, the individual’s qualifications, and the significance of their role is necessary.

For all P visa types, it’s common to provide supporting documentation that demonstrates the individual’s qualifications, the significance of their work, and their intended activities in the U.S. 

This might include letters of recommendation, media coverage, contracts, itineraries, and other relevant materials. 

Additionally, a consultation from an appropriate labor union or peer group is often required to validate the individual’s qualifications and the importance of their work in their respective field.

P-1A Visa for Athletes and Athletic Teams

Internationally recognized foreign athletes may apply for nonimmigrant P-1A visa. Nonimmigrant visa means that it will be issued temporarily. Athletes can apply for P-1 visa individually or as part of an athletic team.

An internationally recognized athlete can apply for a P-1 visa based on his or her individual reputation and achievements in sports. This is a lower standard than that for O-1 applicants in athletics. Initial P-1 visa for individual athletes may be valid for up to five years.

Athletic teams must be recognized internationally as outstanding in their area and must be coming to perform services that require such recognition in the U.S. Team members may not perform any services in the U.S. independently of their team.

Foreign athletes eligible for P-1 visa to include the following applicants:

  1. Individual professional athletes employed by teams (including affiliated minor league teams) belonging to an association of six or more professional sports teams with combined
    revenues exceeding $10 million annually, where the association governs its members’ conduct and regulates the competition;
  2. Individual coaches or athletes performing with teams or franchises in the United States that are part of an international league/association with at least 15 amateur sports
    teams, under certain circumstances;
  3. Amateur or professional skaters performing individually or as part of a group in theatrical skating productions/tours.

Individual athletes and athletic teams must submit the following documents with their Form I-129 application:

  • A tendered contract with a major U.S. sports league or team
  • Evidence of at least two of the following:
    • Significant participation in a prior U.S. major league season
    • Participation in international competition with a national team
    • Significant participation in a prior U.S. college/university season in
      intercollegiate competition
    • Written statement from a major U.S. sports league or official of the
      sport’s governing body detailing the foreign national’s or team’s
      international recognition
    • Written statement from the sports media or a recognized expert
      respecting international recognition
    • International ranking
    • Significant honors/awards in the sports

P-1 visas for athletic teams or entertainment groups are valid for the time needed to complete the competition, event, or performance, up to one year.

P-1B Visa for Entertainers

P-1B visa can be issued to foreign nationals who belong to an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in their area for a sustained and substantial period of time.

Each member of an entertainment group must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with this group for at least a year (with some exceptions).

P-1B visa is granted on the basis of the group’s international reputation, not on the basis of individual achievement.

P-1B visa application for members of an entertainment group must include the following documentation:

  • Evidence that the group has been established and performing regularly for a period of a least one year;
  • A statement listing each member of the group and the exact date for which each member has been employed on a regular basis by this group; and
  • Evidence that the group has been internationally recognized in their area for a sustained and substantial period of time

The ‘international recognition‘ requirement may be met by providing the following documents:

  • Evidence of the group’s nomination for or receipt of significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field, or
  • Evidence that the group has achieved three of the following:
    • Has and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions/events with distinguished reputations
    • International recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievements
    • Has and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments with a distinguished reputation
    • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes
    • Significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts
    • Has commanded or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration comparable to others similarly situated

P-2 Visa for Artists and Entertainers in Exchange Programs

P-2 visa is available for artists and entertainers who perform individually or as part of a group, in agreement with an exchange program between U.S. organizations and foreign organizations.
The labor unions must be involved in establishing the exchange program or at least concur with it.

The exchange must be similar in terms of level of artists or entertainers, terms of employment, and numbers of foreign nationals involved in the exchange.

P-2 visas are valid for the time needed to complete the competition, event, or performance, up to one year.

P-3 Visa (Artists and Entertainers in Culturally Unique Programs)

Culturally unique artists and entertainers, performing individually or as a group,  who come to the U.S. to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach their art or craft are eligible to apply for P-3 visa. To apply for P-3 visa, the foreign artists and entertainers must provide the following evidence with their I-129 petition:

  • Affidavits, testimonials, or letters from recognized experts attesting to the authenticity of the artist and entertainers skills in performing, presenting, coaching, or teaching the unique or traditional art form and giving the credentials of the expert, or
  • Documentation that the performance of foreign artists and entertainers is culturally unique, as corroborated by reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials, and
  • Evidence that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events.

P-3 visas are valid for the time needed to complete the competition, event, or performance, up to one year.

How to apply for a P visa?

Applying for a P visa involves several steps and requires careful preparation of documentation. Here’s a general outline of the process:

  • Determine Your Eligibility: Make sure you understand which specific P visa category (P-1A, P-1B, P-2, or P-3) you qualify for based on your profession and the purpose of your visit to the U.S.
  • Find a U.S. Sponsor or Employer: You will need a U.S.-based employer or sponsor who will file the petition on your behalf. This could be an agent, manager, employer, or organization that is involved in your field of work.
  • Gather Required Documentation:
    • Form I-129: The U.S. employer or sponsor must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Supporting Documentation: Include all necessary documentation to demonstrate your eligibility, such as letters of recommendation, contracts, itineraries, evidence of international recognition, and any other relevant materials.
    • Consultation: For P-1 and P-3 visas, you need to include a consultation letter from an appropriate labor union or peer group that confirms your qualifications and the significance of your work.
  • File the Petition: The U.S. employer or sponsor files Form I-129 along with the supporting documentation with the USCIS. The filing fee and processing time can vary.
  • Wait for Approval: Once USCIS receives the petition, they will review the materials and make a decision. If approved, USCIS will issue a Notice of Approval (Form I-797) to the petitioner.
  • Apply for a Visa: If you are outside the U.S., you will need to apply for a P visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. If you are already in the U.S. in a different non-immigrant status, you may need to file for a change of status.
  • Attend Visa Interview: Attend a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. You will need to provide additional documentation and go through an interview process where the consular officer will assess your eligibility for the visa.
  • Pay Visa Fees: Pay the visa application fee as required by the U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Attend Biometrics Appointment: Depending on the embassy or consulate, you might need to attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints and other biographical information.
  • Receive Visa Approval: If your visa application is approved, your passport will be stamped with the P visa, allowing you to enter the U.S.
  • Travel to the U.S.: Once you have the P visa, you can travel to the U.S. on or after the start date mentioned on your visa. Be prepared to show your visa and supporting documentation to U.S. immigration officials upon arrival.

P visa fees

The fees associated with the P visa process can vary depending on the specific visa category and circumstances. 

The fees may include both the USCIS processing fees for the petition as well as the visa application fees paid to the U.S. Department of State when applying for the visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Please note that fee amounts can change, so it’s essential to verify the current fees on the official USCIS and U.S. Department of State websites.

USCIS Processing Fees (Form I-129):

  • $1,o15 (general category), or $510 (small employer or nonprofit)
  • $600 Asylum Program Fee (general category), $300 (small employer), or $0 (nonprofit)

U.S. Department of State Visa Application Fees:

  • The current P visa application fee is $205. These fees are paid directly to the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply for the visa.

It’s important to note that these fees are subject to change, and it’s recommended to check the official USCIS and U.S. Department of State websites for the most up-to-date fee information before starting the application process. 

Additionally, the sponsoring employer or organization might cover these fees as part of their support for your visa application.

P visa checklist of documents

Preparing a comprehensive and organized set of documents is crucial when applying for a P visa. 

While the specific documents required can vary based on the visa category and your individual circumstances, here’s a general checklist of documents you might need for a P visa application:

  1. Form I-129 Petition:
  • Completed and signed Form I-129 for the appropriate P visa category (P-1A, P-1B, P-2, or P-3).
  • Any required supplements or supporting forms specific to your visa category.
  1. Supporting Documentation:
  • Passport: Valid passport with an expiration date beyond your intended stay in the U.S.
  • Visa application confirmation: DS-160 confirmation page (if applying outside the U.S.).
  • Visa application fee payment receipt.
  • Passport-sized photos: Follow the U.S. visa photo requirements.
  • Offer Letter or Contract: Documentation showing your engagement or employment in the U.S., including terms of compensation and employment duration.
  • Evidence of International Recognition: Documents demonstrating your or your group’s international recognition, such as awards, rankings, press clippings, reviews, and media coverage.
  • Performance Itinerary: Detailed schedule of your performances, events, or activities in the U.S.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Letters from experts in your field attesting to your skills, achievements, and significance in your industry.
  • Consultation Letter: Required for P-1 and P-3 visas. A letter from an appropriate labor union or peer group confirming your qualifications and the importance of your work.
  • Support Letters: Letters from U.S. organizations, agents, or industry professionals confirming your role and participation in the event or program.
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae: Detailed account of your professional background, achievements, and relevant experience.
  • Contracts or Agreements: Any contracts or agreements related to your U.S. activities.
  • Proof of Accomplishments: Records, certificates, or other evidence of your accomplishments, such as awards, certifications, and degrees.
  • Proof of Cultural Significance (P-3): Documentation highlighting the cultural uniqueness and significance of the program you’re participating in.
  • Reciprocal Exchange Program Documents (P-2): Agreements and documentation related to the exchange program.
  • Evidence of Group Recognition (P-1B): Materials proving your entertainment group’s international recognition and prominence.
  1. U.S. Embassy/Consulate Documents (If Applying Outside the U.S.):
  • DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Visa application fee payment receipt.
  • Passport-sized photos.
  • Passport.

Remember, this is a general checklist, and the specific documents you need may vary based on your circumstances and the visa category you’re applying for. 

How long can I stay in the U.S. on a P visa?

The duration of stay on a P visa in the U.S. can vary depending on the specific P visa category you hold and the nature of your activities. 

Here’s a general guideline for the maximum period of stay for each P visa category:

P-1A Visa (Internationally Recognized Athletes and Athletic Teams):

  • Athletes: Generally, a P-1A visa for individual athletes is granted for the duration of the specific event or competition they are participating in, up to a maximum of 5 years
  • Athletic Teams: For P-1A visa holders who are part of an internationally recognized athletic team, the visa can be granted for the duration of the event or competition, plus an additional 1 year for training and preparation, up to a maximum of 5 years.

P-1B Visa (Members of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups):

  • P-1B visas are typically granted for the duration of the specific performance, event, or tour, up to a maximum of 1 year. Extensions are possible to cover additional performances or events.

P-2 Visa (Artists and Entertainers in Reciprocal Exchange Programs):

  • P-2 visas are usually granted for the duration of the exchange program’s activities, up to a maximum of 1 year. Extensions may be possible to accommodate additional program activities.

P-3 Visa (Artists and Entertainers in Culturally Unique Programs):

  • P-3 visas are typically granted for the duration of the program or event for which the individual is coming to the U.S., up to a maximum of 1 year. Extensions can be obtained for additional program-related activities.

It’s important to note that the maximum durations mentioned above are general guidelines and can be subject to the specific circumstances of each case. Extensions of stay are possible in certain situations, but they must be applied for before the initial period of stay expires. Additionally, the duration of stay granted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry can be shorter than the visa validity if deemed appropriate.

If you need to extend your stay beyond the initially granted period, you will need to file an extension petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your current status expires.

How to change status from P visa to a green card?

Changing your status from a P visa to a green card (permanent residency) in the United States involves a multi-step process that can be complex and time-consuming. Here’s a general overview of the steps you might take to transition from a P visa to a green card:

Step 1. Determine Eligibility: Understand the eligibility criteria for the specific green card category you’re interested in. Common categories include employment-based green cards (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3) and family-sponsored green cards.

Step 2. Choose the Appropriate Green Card Category: Select the green card category that aligns with your qualifications and circumstances. For example, if you have extraordinary ability or are an outstanding researcher or professor, you might consider the EB-1A or EB-1B categories. If you have an employer willing to sponsor you, they might file an employment-based petition on your behalf.

Step 3. File a Green Card Petition:

  • Employment-Based: If you’re eligible for an employment-based green card, your employer (or you, if self-petitioning under certain categories) will need to file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with the appropriate USCIS service center.
  • Family-Sponsored: If you’re pursuing a family-sponsored green card, your U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf.

Step 4. Wait for Green Card Petition Approval: Once your I-140 or I-130 petition is approved, you will be in the queue for an immigrant visa number, which is necessary for certain green card categories.

Step 5. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing:

  • Adjustment of Status: If you are in the U.S. and an immigrant visa number is available, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This allows you to apply for a green card while remaining in the U.S.
  • Consular Processing: If you are outside the U.S. or prefer to go through consular processing, you will need to attend an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • File Supporting Documents: Along with Form I-485 or preparing for the immigrant visa interview, you will need to provide various supporting documents such as medical exams, police clearances, financial documents, and evidence of eligibility for the chosen green card category.

Step 6. Attend Biometrics Appointment: If applying for adjustment of status, attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints and biographical information.

Step 7. Attend Visa Interview: If undergoing consular processing, attend the immigrant visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.

Step 8. Receive Green Card: If approved, you will receive your green card, granting you lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.

Keep in mind that the process can vary based on your circumstances, the specific green card category, and any potential changes in immigration policies. 

It’s strongly recommended to consult with an immigration attorney to guide you through the process and ensure that you meet all the requirements for a successful transition from a P visa to a green card.

 

Related Links:

Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application