P Visa

Under U.S. Immigration Law, the non-immigrant P-Visa category is reserved for aliens who wish to come to the United States to perform services as an internationally recognized athlete, entertainer, and/or performer. There are several different categories of P-visas, listed here with the link to their relevant USCIS page:

P-1A: Internationally Recognized Athlete
P-1B: Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group
P-2:Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program
P-3: Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program

Additionally, spouses and minor children of a P-1, P-2 or P-3 alien may accompany them to the United States on a P-4 visa.

The petitioning employer, agent, or sponsoring organization must file a Form I-129 (Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker) for all P-1, P-2 and P-3 petitions with the USCIS in order to determine their eligibility for the visa and review the services to be performed while in the United States, before the alien may apply for a visa or seek admission into the country. Please keep in mind that if a P alien in the United States wishes to change employers or sponsors, the new employer or sponsor must file a new I-129 petition and request to extend the alien’s stay in the United States. The alien may not begin employment with the new employer or sponsor until both the petition and extension request have been approved.

Furthermore, ifthe beneficiary will work in more than one location (for example, if they are on a tour) then the petitioner must include an itinerary with the dates and locations of the performances with the petition. If the beneficiary will work for more than one employer within the same time period, then each employer must file a separate petition. However,” a petition involving multiple employers may also be filed by a person or company in business as an agent who acts as an agent for the both the employers and the beneficiary,” as long as certain conditions are met. For more information on employers as agents please refer to this USCIS memo.

The following evidence is required to accompany every type of P nonimmigrant petition:

  • Copies of any written contracts between the petitioner and the alien beneficiary or, if there is no written contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed;
  • An explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities;
  • A written consultation from a labor organization; and
  • Any other evidence necessary for the alien’s specific P category.

The petitioner must also submit evidence that establish the alien’s ability. The necessary types of evidence that must be submitted with the P-Visa petition are as follows:

  • Affidavits, contracts, awards and similar documentation must reflect the nature of the alien’s achievement and be executed by an officer or responsible person employed by the institution, establishment, or organization where the work was performed.
  • Affidavits written by present or former employers or recognized experts certifying the recognition and extraordinary ability, or, in the case of a motion picture or television production, the extraordinary achievement of the alien, which shall specifically describe the alien’s recognition and ability or achievement in factual terms. The affidavit must also set forth the expertise of the affiant and the manner in which the affiant acquired such information.
  • A legible copy of a document in support of the petition may be submitted in lieu of the original.

P-1 Essential Support Personnel

According to the USCIS, “essential support personnel”who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1 athlete or team, and who perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker,” are also eligible for P-1 classification. Examples of support personnel are coaches, scouts, trainers, etc. It may also include referees, linesmen, or officials to conduct the games if they are traditionally employed in the sport. [8 C.F.R. 214.2(p)(3)]

The U.S. employer or agent must file a separate Form I-129 for support personnel. The petition must include the following documents:

  • A consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the area of the support person’s skill;
  • A statement describing the support person’s prior and current essentiality, critical skills and experience with the P-1 athlete/team; and
  • A copy of a written contract between the employer and the support person or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the support person will be employed.

A Comparison of P and O-Visas

The P-visa is very similar to the O-visa, which is designated for aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or in the motion picture and television field. It is very possible that one individual may qualify for both visas. However, there are a few differences between the two that one should keep in mind.

First, the O-visa covers a broader spectrum of employment than does the P-visa. Aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, art, education, or business may also qualify along with performers, entertainers, and athletes. Many of those people would be ineligibleto apply for a P-visa because they were not coming to the United States to perform as an athlete or an entertainer. Secondly, the O-visa provides an easier path to permanent resident status than a P-visa would. As it is a dual intent visa (meaning that those in O status may apply for permanent residency at any time during their stay without preconceived intent issues), it is a good selection for those who qualify as extraordinary and would like to become a legal permanent resident of the United States. P-visas have a much shorter time limit than O visas and are intended only for those who wish to come temporarily to the U.S., with no preconceived intent of applying for an immigration petition. Finally, P-visas allow for whole groups to qualify for the visa, whereas O does not. For a P-visa for members of a group, the reputation of the whole group is what matters when determining their eligibility for the petition, not each individual. However for an O-visa, each member of the group would have to meet the extraordinary requirements to be able to qualify.

For more information about Visas, please click on one of the following links: