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P Visa

P Visa – Athletes, Entertainers & Performers (more info)

The P visa category covers athletes, entertainers and cultural performers. There are three different visa classifications within this category. P-1 visas are for athletes and group entertainers that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time. P-2 visas are for entertainers that are a part of reciprocal international exchanges. P-3 visas are for persons coming to teach or coach as artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique. P visas are also available to essential support personnel. P-4 visas are available to the spouses and children of P-1, P-2 and P-3 visa holders.

P-1 Athletes and Entertainment Groups

P-1A Athletes

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

Document Requirements:

A U.S. employer should file the I-129 petition with:

  • Written advisory opinion from the appropriate labor organization which evaluates the person’s or group’s ability, comment on their international recognition and state whether services being performed are appropriate for an internationally recognized athlete;
  • Tendered contract with a major U.S. sports league or team or one commensurate with international recognition in the sport; and
  • Copies of evidence of at least two of the following:
    1. Significant participation in a prior season with a major U.S. sports league;
    2. Participation in international competition with a national team;
    3. Significant participation in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition;
    4. A written statement from a U.S. official in the sport detailing how the individual or team is internationally recognized;
    5. A written statement from an expert or sports media detailing how the individual or team is internationally recognized;
    6. Evidence as to the individual’s or team’s ranking; or
    7. Evidence of a significant honor or award in the sport.
    8. NOTE: If the events will take place in multiple areas, an itinerary or schedule must be submitted with the P visa petition. The itinerary must set forth the dates and locations of the events.

P-1B Entertainment Group

The P-1B classification applies to an alien coming temporarily to perform as a member of a foreign-based entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. This person also must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (ordinarily for at least one year) and/or provide functions integral to the group’s performance.

Document Requirements:

A U.S. employer should file the I-129 petition with:

  • Written advisory opinion from the appropriate labor organization which evaluates the person’s or group’s ability, comment on their international recognition and state whether services being performed are appropriate for an internationally recognized entertainment group;
  • A statement that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least one year; and
  • Evidence the group is internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time as demonstrated by evidence of the group’s receipt of, or nomination for, significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field, or evidence of at least three of the following:
    1. The group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
    2. The group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material;
    3. The group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
    4. The group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
    5. The alien has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien’s achievements; or
    6. The group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.
    7. NOTE: If the events or performances will take place in multiple areas, an itinerary must be submitted with the P visa petition. The itinerary must set forth the dates and locations of the events.

When to file:

Petitions should be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6 months before the proposed employment will begin or the extension of stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed before the person’s services are required or previous employment authorization ends.

Validity of a P-1 Visa:

The validity of the P-1 visa varies, as visa holders are admitted for the time necessary to complete their event, competition, or performance. However, P-1A (athletes) may be admitted for a period of up to 5 years with one extension up to 5 years and P-1B (entertainment group) may not exceed 1 year.

P-2 Reciprocal Exchange

The P-2 classification applies to a person coming temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer individually or as part of a group, who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the U.S. and an organization in another country.

Document Requirements

The sponsoring organization, an employer in the U.S., or the U.S. labor organization that negotiated the agreement should file the I-129 petition with:

  • Written advisory opinion from the appropriate labor organization which comments on the bona fides of the reciprocal program and whether it meets appropriate regulatory standard;
  • Formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the U.S. organization(s) sponsoring the alien and the organization(s) in a foreign country which will receive the U.S. artist or entertainer;
  • A statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange;
  • Evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the U.S. was involved in negotiating or concurs with the reciprocal exchange program; and
  • Evidence that all exchange artists or entertainers are artists with comparable skills and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar.

NOTE: If the events or performances will take place in multiple areas, an itinerary must be submitted with the P visa petition. The itinerary must set forth the dates and locations of the events.

When to file:

Petitions should be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6 months before the proposed employment will begin or the extension of stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed before the person’s services are required or previous employment authorization ends.

Validity of a P-2 Visa:

P-2 visas are granted for the time necessary to complete the event up to one year and extensions for a similar period.

P-3 Culturally Unique Performers

The P-3 classification is for artists or entertainers, individually or as a group, coming to the U.S. for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical or artistic performance or presentation. The P-3 visa holder must be coming to the U.S. to participate in a commercial or noncommercial cultural event which will further understanding or development of his or her art form.

Petition Document Requirements

The sponsoring organization or U.S. Employer should file the I-129 petition with:

  • A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization which evaluates the cultural uniqueness of the person’s skills, states whether the events are mostly cultural in nature, and states whether the event or activity is appropriate for P-3 classification;
  • Affidavits, testimonials or letters from recognized experts with the basis of their knowledge attesting to the person’s skills in performing, presenting, coaching or teaching the unique and traditional art form;
  • Documentation that the performance is culturally unique, as evidenced by published materials; and
  • Evidence that all performances will be culturally unique events.

NOTE: If the events or performances will take place in multiple areas, an itinerary must be submitted with the P visa petition. The itinerary must set forth the dates and locations of the events.

When to file:

Petitions should be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6 months before the proposed employment will begin or the extension of stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed before the person’s services are required or previous employment authorization ends.

Validity of a P-3 Visa:

P-3 visas are granted for the time necessary to complete the event up to one year and extensions for a similar period.

Essential Support Personnel

This category applies to persons who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 “because he or she performs support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance.” The person must have the appropriate qualifications to perform the services, critical knowledge of the specific services and experience in providing such support.

Document Requirements:

The petition must be filed in conjunction with the petition for a P-1, P-2 or P-3 alien by a U.S. employer and must be filed with:

  • A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization which evaluates the person’s essentiality to and working relationship with the artist or entertainer and states whether U.S. workers are available;
  • A statement regarding the person’s prior essentiality, critical skills and experience with the principal beneficiary of the underlying P-1, P-2 or P-3;
  • A copy of any written contract or summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the person will be employed.

NOTE: If the events or performances will take place in multiple areas, an itinerary must be submitted with the P visa petition. The itinerary must set forth the dates and locations of the events.

When to file:

Petitions should be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6 months before the proposed employment will begin or the extension of stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed before the person’s services are required or previous employment authorization ends.

Validity of visa for essential support personnel:

Visas for essential support personnel are granted for the time necessary to complete the event up to one year and extensions for a similar period.

P-4 Spouses and Dependents

A spouse and children may be granted P-4 visas to accompany a P-1, P-2 or P-3 visa holder. P-4 visas holders may only be admitted for the same period of time as the principal beneficiary.

What happens after a P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa petition is approved?

Applying for the Visa:

If the beneficiary of the P visa petition is outside of the country when the petition is approved, he/she must apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate.

Some beneficiaries may be visa exempt. In those cases, the I-129 approval notice is sent to the port of entry (POE) where the beneficiary intends to apply for admission. For specific procedures on Visa Application Procedures, Required Documentation and Visa Ineligibility Waiver, please visit Visa Services at the Department of State.

If the beneficiary is already in the U.S. and is changing from one nonimmigrant status to another, a visa is not required. However, a visa may be required if the beneficiary subsequently leaves the U.S. and wishes to re-enter.

Entry into the U.S.

Please be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has authority to deny admission at the port of entry to any applicant who is inadmissible under INA, even if the applicant has a visa. Also, the CBP, not the consular officer, determines the period for which the bearer of a temporary work visa is authorized to remain in the United States. At the port of entry, CBP officials issue Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay, however, is made solely by the USCIS.