If you are an athlete, artist or entertainer who wishes to temporarily travel to the United States, you may be eligible to apply for a P visa.
In this article we will see details about the “P” category of visas, the necessary procedures, its requirements, benefits and other important aspects to request it. The immigration lawyers in Los Angeles at the Lluis Law firm are specialists in any type of visa or immigration matters in the US. Call our office today and we will provide you with a personalized consultation for your case.
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Table of Contents
What is the P visa?
The P visa is among the types of American visas based on employment. Only internationally recognized athletes (professional or amateur), artists and entertainers may apply to temporarily travel to the United States to fulfill their respective specialty.
This visa should not be confused with the O visa which is for individuals with extraordinary ability.
Characteristics of the P visa
Some of the characteristics of the P visa are that:
- There are four types that are granted according to the applicant and the circumstances, these are: P-1, P-2, P-3 and P-4;
- It can be awarded individually or for groups (for example, musical bands, orchestras, sports teams and others) when a performance or competition is planned in the United States;
- Starting music group members do not need this visa to enter the U.S. Simply apply for a US B-2 tourist visa. Even if they are citizens of a member country of the Visa Waiver Program, they do not require a visa.
- If you plan to receive any kind of payment in the US for your athletic or artistic activity, then you will need a US type P visa.
P visa classifications
As mentioned above, there are several classifications under the “P” category, depending on your profession and the activity you will be doing in the US, you may be eligible to apply for one of the following:
The P-1 classification can be requested by individual or team athletes and by members who are part of an artistic group. Depending on your occupation, this category is divided into:
- P-1A: For professional or amateur athletes who will be temporarily traveling to the US for the sole purpose of appearing in an ice skating competition, specific production, or tour as part of a group or individually.
- P-1S: For highly qualified essential support personnel who are integral to the success of the individual or team P-1A athlete’s performance.
- P-1B : For members of an artistic group established for more than 1 year and with international recognition who will travel to the US temporarily.
The P-2 classification may be applied for by foreign nationals traveling temporarily to the US to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group. The applicant will need to make a submission under a reciprocal exchange program between a US organization with an organization from another country.
Highly skilled and essential support personnel who are part of the successful presentation of an entertainment group under the P-2 visa may also qualify for this visa.
The P-2 visa should not be confused with the Q visa , which is also used for cultural exchanges abroad.
The P-3 classification may be applied for by foreign nationals who will be traveling to the US temporarily to perform, teach, or train as an entertainer or artist, either individually or as part of an ensemble and under a unique cultural program.
Qualified and essential support personnel who are part of the P-3 holder’s successful filing may be eligible for this visa.
The P-4 classification is given to spouses and children under the age of 21 accompanying P-1, P-2 or P-3 visa holders to the US. This category of nonimmigrant visa does not authorize the holder to work in the country during their stay and lasts the same time as the P-1 visa.
P visa requirements
To process any type of P visa, it is necessary for a US employer or sponsor to first file an application with USCIS using Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
If USCIS approves the petition, both the US employer and sponsor are notified via Form I-797. Once approved, the applicant will be able to apply for the visa at a US consulate or embassy. For more information, visit www.travel.state.gov.
If the applicant for a P work visa for athletes/entertainers works with multiple employers, each must file a separate petition with USCIS. In addition, as we will see below, the requirements vary according to the classification of the P category.
P-1 visa requirements
Your purpose is to compete in a specific temporary athletic event in the US and you are:
- An internationally recognized individual athlete;
- Part of an internationally recognized group or team;
- A professional athlete, or
- An athlete or coach of a team or franchise within the US that is a member of a foreign league or association.
Must be part of the qualified support staff that is part of the P-1A holder’s filing.
- You are a member of an internationally recognized group, if you are an individual artist you will not be eligible;
- 75% of the members of the artistic group must have had a continuous and substantial relationship with the rest of the group for 1 year;
- Written consultation from an appropriate labor organization;
- Itinerary with the dates and places of the presentations;
- Copy of the contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of the terms of the contract;
- Evidence that the group has been performing regularly for at least 1 year;
- Petitioner’s written statement listing all members of the group and the dates each has been employed by the group;
- Evidence that the group has been internationally recognized for a continuous and substantial period, must be substantiated by evidence that it has been nominated for or received significant international prizes or awards, or show at least 3 of the following evidences about the group:
- Presented or will perform as a protagonist in a production or event of high reputation and will be evidenced by reviews, advertisements, contracts and others.
- Received or will receive international recognition and acclaim for achievements in their field as evidenced by reviews in newspapers, publications, magazines or otherwise;
- Acted and performed services as a main or primary group for organizations and establishments that have high reputations;
- It has a record of great commercial successes and is acclaimed by critics. It can be evidenced by box office receipts, record sales and others.
- Received recognition for your achievements from organizations, critics, or other experts in your field;
- Requires or will require high pay or salary or other remuneration for their services, comparable to other similar groups within their field. It must be evidenced by contracts or reliable documentation.
P2 visa requirements
Along with the I-129 form and the other general requirements of the P visa, the following documents must be included:
- Written consultation issued by an appropriate labor organization;
- Copy of the contract/reciprocal exchange agreement between the US organization and its foreign counterpart;
- Statement from the organization sponsoring the event describing the nature of the reciprocal exchange of entertainers;
- Evidence of the professional skills of the artist and of the reciprocity of the terms of trade (conditions of employment);
- Evidence of the participation of a US labor organization involved in the negotiation;
- Itinerary of presentations if it is in different locations.
P-3 visa requirements
The main requirement to be eligible for the P-3 visa is to interpret, represent, coach or teach a unique or traditional ethnic, musical, theatrical, cultural or artistic performance or event. The program you represent can be commercial or non-commercial, in addition, along with the I-129 form you must include:
- Written consultation of an appropriate labor organization;
- An explanation of the event or activities, the effective dates, completion of events and a copy of the itinerary;
- Documentation that demonstrates the functions or presentations of the event;
- Affidavits, testimonials, or letters from experts certifying the authenticity of your or your group’s abilities to train, present, or teach unique and/or traditional arts;
- Copy of any contract between petitioner and beneficiary or a summary of the terms of an oral agreement.
Requirements for P visa holder support staff
Comprehensive essential support personnel of the P-1A, P-1B, P-2 or P-3 holder’s filing may apply for a visa as long as their services cannot be performed by a US worker.
Support staff must file a separate Form I-129 for support staff, along with the following documents:
- A consultation by an appropriate labor organization;
- Copy of the written contract between the employer and the support staff or a summary of the terms of the contract;
- A statement describing the previous and current essential skills, foundational skills, and experience of the support person with the appropriate incumbent, either: P-1A, P-1B, P-2, or P-3.
Support personnel for a P-1A visa include coaches, recruiters, referees, interpreters, and other team officials. On the other hand, for a P-1B, P-2 and P-3 visa, camera operators, lighting technicians, stagehands or managerial office staff are considered support personnel.
Documents to apply for the P-1A visa
In addition to Form I-129, the US employer, agent, or sponsor will need to submit additional documentation for P-1A visa applications for internationally recognized athletes or teams. These documents are:
For individual athletes or internationally recognized teams
The main document required will be a copy of the contract awarded with a major sports league or team in the US or in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in the sport.
In addition, you must show at least two of the following documents:
- Participation to a significant degree during a previous season with a major sports league in the United States;
- Participate in a significant major in a national team;
- Participation to a significant degree in a season prior to intercollegiate competition for an American college or university;
- Written statement by an official sports regulatory body, detailing that the athlete or team has international recognition. OR;
- A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in that sport, detailing how the athlete or team is internationally recognized;
- Evidence that the team is highly ranked in that sport if it has international rankings;
- Evidence that the athlete or team has received major honors and/or accolades in that sport.
For professional athletes
- Evidence establishing that you will be working for a team located in the US that is a member of an association of 6 or more professional sports teams. This may include, but is not limited to:
- List of participating teams approved by the sports association or league;
- Contracts, agreements or other documentation showing that the team is a member of the sports association or league;
- Letter from the association or league detailing and confirming team membership;
- Marketing and promotional materials from the league or association where you identify which teams are members;
- Reviews, articles, or other documentation by sports media members showing that the team is a member of a qualified association or league;
- Establish that the total combined revenue of the teams in the league or association exceeds $10 million per year. Also, include:
- Tax documents;
- Audited financial documents;
- Articles or reports in the media where they establish a specific reference to the income generated by the teams of the league or sports association.
- Establish that the association manages the conduct of its members and regulates the events in which member teams regularly participate. Included:
- Articles or media reports where the measures taken by the association or link to regularize the events are discussed;
- Statements from the association or league officials who have the knowledge and authority to approve the action and/or manner in which the league or association regulates events;
- Rules and statutes of the association or league.
If you will be working for a minor league team affiliated with the league or association and are qualified, you will need to include:
- Contracts or agreements;
- Marketing and promotional materials from the league or association that identify the minor league team’s affiliation;
- Declaration of the association or league where they confirm in details the affiliation of the team;
- Articles, reviews, or other media documentation showing that the team is affiliated with a qualified league or association;
- Other documents showing that the team is affiliated with the qualified league or association.
Amateur athletes or coaches
The US employer or sponsor must submit evidence that the beneficiary will serve as an athlete or coach as part of the franchise of a team located in the US that is a member of a foreign league or association that meets the necessary requirements. Must include:
- Contracts, copies of rules and bylaws, or other documentation from the league office evidencing the level of performance of member teams. OR;
- Sports media reviews, reports and articles demonstrating a league or association level of performance.
Theatrical ice skaters
For theatrical ice skaters, evidence must be submitted that they will perform individually or as part of a group in an artistic ice skating production. It must include:
- Itinerary or schedules of the performances;
- Evidence of your previous achievements and awards;
- Reviews, descriptions and critiques of theatrical performance from magazines, newspapers and other sports or training media.
How long does the artist visa last?
The duration of the P visa depends on who applies for it. Below we will detail the times initially allowed to stay in the US for a P-1, P-2 and P-3 holder:
- Individual athletes. It is granted for a maximum period of 5 years and you can request an extension for another 5 years. After 10 years of permanence in the United States under this visa, the holder must leave the country.
- Team athletes. Athletes traveling as a team can stay up to 1 year. However, the P visa can be extended for another year several times.
- Individual and group artists. P-1B, P-2 and P-3 visa holders can stay up to a maximum of 1 year, but have an extension for another to continue with the performance or event.
- Support staff. Support staff have a maximum stay period of 1 year for all types of P visas. However, support staff for individual P-1A holders may extend their stay for up to 5 years, while support staff for P-1A groups -1A may only extend their period up to 1 year maximum.
In order to extend the type of visa in the US, Form I-539 , application for extension or change of nonimmigrant status, must be submitted to USCIS.
How long does it take to apply for the P visa?
After the sponsor has filed the application with USCIS, the processing time for the P visa can range from approximately 3 to 6 months. Although if the employer pays a premium fee through the Form I-907, premium processing application of $1,225, the P visa can be processed in just 2-3 weeks.
Can I change employers on a P visa?
Yes, P visa recipients can change employers, but they can only do so after their new employer has submitted a new Form I-129 to USCIS, requesting permission to employ you and extend your stay.
Beneficiaries cannot begin employment with the new employer until the I-129 is approved.
For professionals with a P-1 visa who are transferred from one organization to another, their employment authorization will automatically continue for 30 days after acquisition by the new organization. This new organization must file the I-129 for the P-1 nonimmigrant classification.
If the employer does not file the I-129 within the 30-day period or the new petition is denied, employment authorization will cease.
Can I get a Green Card with a P1 visa?
Although the P-1 visa does not provide a direct path to obtaining a Green Card , there are other options. Remember that it is a non-immigrant visa and therefore, the holder agrees to return to their country of origin.
However, it is possible to adjust status or obtain a green card in other ways. One is through marriage to a US citizen through the K-1 visa. The other two options are an employment-based petition or a family petition for US residency.
What type of visa do artists have?
Artists may travel to the US on category “O” visas or category “P” visas as applicable. Before starting the process for any of these visas, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney.
Any error in filling out the forms or with the other required documents can lead to the denial of the visa.
The lawyers at Lluis Law can help you with all the P visa procedures in the United States. If you are an artist or a professional player, call us with confidence and we will advise you in a private consultation.
We always offer our clients different options available to obtain the Green Card, United States citizenship by naturalization or any other immigration matter that you wish to obtain.
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