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Understanding nonimmigrant P visas for athletes

There are many reasons why people desire to come to the United States for a short period of time, but they will need a nonimmigrant visa. A previous blog post provides a brief description of what nonimmigrant visas are. For people in the athletic world, they will need a P-1A visa.

The P-1A visa is designed for athletes who are recognized internationally, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This visa can be granted to athletic teams as well as individuals but there are certain criteria that must be met. The employers of the athletes (if on a team), or the athlete will need to fill out Form I-129. They must show that they are coming to the U.S. for the sole purpose of competing within their sport. To do this, they will have to provide an itinerary of the trip and describe the athletic event. They will also need to submit a sports contract, if there is one; a labor organization consultation in writing; and then two additional documentations that fit one of the following categories:

  •          Proof that the team or the person is recognized internationally – this must come from an official in the sport’s governing body or from a U.S. sports league and it must be in writing.
  •          Recipient of an award or significant honor
  •          Participation in a prior season, and in a major way, with a major sports league in the U.S. or through an American college or university
  •          Ranking, if ranking is used in the sport
  •          Prior performance with a national team at international competition level

Additionally, athletes or teams can show that they are recognized internationally through a letter that is drafted by an expert who is recognized for that sport or by someone in sports media.

Once athletes have arrived in the United States they do have the option to apply for an extended stay. The USCIS states that they will need to show they have stayed out of trouble with the law, that they have adhered to the conditions associated with their admission to the U.S., their visa is still valid and that they entered the country legally.

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