Everything You Need to Know About a P1-A Immigration Visa

What is a P-1A Visa?

The P-1A visa strictly applies to applicants coming temporarily to the U.S. for the sole purpose of participating in an athletic competition as an individual athlete that is internationally recognized as a leader in their sport. Individuals may also apply as part of a sports team that is internationally recognized. Athletes may apply if they are:

  • A professional athlete; or
  • An athlete or coach, as part of a team or sports franchise that is located in the United States and a member of a foreign league or association.
  • P-1A visa status also pertains to professional or amateur athletes admitted temporarily to the U.S with the sole purpose of performing in a theatrical ice-skating event or tour, both individually and as part of a group or team.

Athletes that receive P-1A visa status may also be followed by their spouse and unmarried children that are under the age of 21. These individuals may obtain P-4 nonimmigrant status, a status that does not permit them to work or be employed in the United States but they may attend school or college.  Essential support personnel are eligible to enter the United States. These individuals will be classified under the P-1S visa status. They can only be admitted if they are an integral part of the performance of a P-1 visa holders and may perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker. Support personnel may include scouts, trainers, broadcasters, referrers, coaches, linesmen, umpires, team members, and interpreters.

How do I receive a P-1A Visa?

P-1A Visa applicants must be one of the following:

  • Theatrical Ice Skaters
  • Amateur Athletes or Coaches
  • Professional Athletes
  • Internationally Recognized Athletic Teams
  • Internationally Recognized Individual Athletes

Internationally Recognized Individual Athletes must be coming to the U.S. to take part in an athletic competition in a sport in which they are internationally recognized. Individuals are labeled internationally recognized if they have advanced achievement in their sport. This achievement must be demonstrated by a high level of ability and commendation well above that ordinarily encountered in their sport. Their achievement must be illustrious, leading, or well-known in more than one country. The athletic competition that the applicant wishes to take part in in must have a prominent reputation and requires the participation of internationally recognized athletes.

Internationally Recognized Athletic Teams that are applying for P-1A visa status must come to the United States to participate in a distinguished athletic competition with a team that, as a unit, has achieved international recognition in the sport. The competition in which the team is participating in must have a recognized reputation and require the participation of internationally recognized athletic teams.

To be admitted to the United States as a professional athlete under the P-1A visa, the application must be coming to the United States to be employed as an athlete by:

  • A recognized sports team that is a member of an organization of 6+ professional sports clubs whose combined revenues are in excess $10 million USD per year. The association must govern the conduct of its teams and athletes. It must also regulate the tours, “games”, and exhibitions in which its member teams regularly engage; or
  • Any minor league team that has an affiliation with such an organization.

Amateur Athletes must be coming to the United States to participate in a performance as an athlete or coach as a member of a sports team or franchise that has locations in the United States and is a member of a foreign sports league or organization. The foreign league or organization must meet the following requirements:

  • The league or organization must have at least 15 amateur sports clubs or teams; 
  • By participating in the sports league players must temporarily or permanently be rendered impermissible under National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) guidelines to:
    • Receive an educational scholarship for sports at a United States college or university; or
    • Participate in their sport at a U.S. college or university;
  • The league or organization must be the ultimate level of amateur performance of that sport in the applicant’s country; and
  • A significant number of the athletes who partake in contests in the league or organization are drafted by a major sports team or organization, as well as a minor league affiliate.

Theatrical Ice Skaters must be coming to the United States to participate in a specific theatrical ice skating production or tour as a professional or amateur athlete who performs individually or as part of a group.

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