P-1 visas: Outstanding Athletes, Athletic Teams, and Entertainment companies

P-1 visas are available to athletes or ath­letic teams that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time. Entertainment companies that have been nationally rec­ognized as outstanding for a long time also qualify. unlike o visas, which always rest on the capabilities of individuals, P-1 visas can be issued based on the expertise of a group. However, don’t be surprised to find a lot of overlap between uses and qualifications for О and P visas.

In the case of entertainment com­panies, each performer who wishes to qualify for a P-1 visa must have been an integral part of the group for at least one year, although up to 25% of them can be excused from the one-year require­ment, if necessary. This requirement may also be waived in exceptional situations, where due to illness or other unantici­pated circumstances, a critical performer is unable to travel. The one-year require­ment is for performers only. It does not apply to support personnel. It also does not apply to anyone at all who works for a circus, including performers.

Like О-1 visas, P-1 visas are issued only for the time needed to complete a particular event, tour, or season. You may also be allowed some extra time for vacation, as well as promotional appear­ances and stopovers incidental and/or related to the event. Individual athletes, however, may remain in the U. S. for up to ten years.

a. Athletes

To qualify as a P-1 athlete, you or your team must have an internationally recog­nized reputation in the sport. Evidence of this must include a contract with a major u. s. sports league, team, or international sporting event, and at least two of the following:

• proof of your, or your team’s, previ­ous significant participation with a major U. S. sports league

• proof of your participation in an international competition with a national team

• proof of your previous significant participation with a U. S. college in intercollegiate competition

• written statement from an official of a major U. S. sports league or the governing body of the sport, detail­ing how you or your team is inter­nationally recognized

• written statement from the sports media or a recognized expert regard­ing your international recognition

• evidence that you or your team is internationally ranked, or

• proof that you or your team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.

b. Entertainers

P-1 visas are not available to individual entertainers, but only to members of groups with international reputa­tions. Your group must have been performing regularly for at least one year, and 75% of the members of your group must have been performing with that group for at least a year. When your employer files a petition on your behalf, the employer will have to supply proof of your group’s sustained interna­tional recognition, as shown by either its nomination for, or receipt of, significant international awards or prizes, or at least three of the following:

• proof that your group has or will star or take a leading role in pro­ductions or events with distin­guished reputations

• reviews or other published mate­rial showing that your group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achieve­ment in the field

• proof that your group has and will star or take a leading role in pro­ductions or events for organizations with distinguished reputations

• proof of large box office receipts or ratings showing your group has a record of major commercial or criti­cally acclaimed successes

• proof that your group has received significant recognition for achieve­ments from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other rec­ognized experts, or

• proof that your group commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration.

c. circuses

Circus performers and essential person­nel do not need to have been part of the organization for one year to get a P-1 visa, provided the particular circus itself has a nationally recognized reputation as outstanding.

d. Waiver for nationally Known Entertainment Groups

USCIS may waive the international recog­nition requirement for groups that have only outstanding national reputations, if special circumstances would make it difficult for your group to prove its inter­national reputation. such circumstances could include your group having only limited access to news media, or prob­lems based on your group’s geographical location.

e. Waiver of One-Year Group membership

USCIS may waive the one-year group membership requirement for you if you are replacing an ill or otherwise unex­pectedly absent but essential member of a P-1 entertainment group. This require­ment may also be waived if you will be performing in any critical role of the group’s operation.