Entering the U.S. for sport
While elite athletes qualify under the “Extraordinary Ability” category, most athletes can meet the requirements for a less-demanding visa. If you perform at the international level or are recognized in your field, you can enter the U.S. with a P-1 visa to compete in events or perform. This visa applies to both individuals and teams, and it covers promotional appearances and sporting season competitions.
How long can I stay in the U.S. ?
Under the P-1 visa, individual athletes and groups have different visa allowances.
- Individual athletes can stay for up to 5 years and can be granted one extension of up to 5 years.
- Group athletes may be admitted for up to a year, but usually the visa is valid only long enough to allow you to finish the competition or event you are attending. A one-year extension may be granted, depending on your individual circumstances.
How do I get a P-1?
Before you can apply, a U.S. employer, sponsor or agent must file a petition with the USCIS in the U.S. The petition will include a contract with a major U.S. sports league, team or one that is internationally recognized. It will also include evidence that you are internationally recognized in your sport. Such evidence includes:
- Your international ranking
- Significant honors or award you received in your sport
- Written statements from a recognized expert or sports media
- Written statements from a major U.S. sports league
- Significant participation in a U.S. major league season
- Significant participation in a U.S. college / university season during the intercollegiate season
After the petition is approved, you can apply for the P-1 visa through your U.S. consulate or embassy.
Can my coach and trainers come, too?
Most likely. Support personnel, like coaches, scouts, trainers and team officials can apply for visas. There are separate P classifications for these.
What can I do on the P-1?
- Perform for payment or prize money
- Engage in part-time study
- Apply for visas for your support people, like coaches and trainers
Are there any travel restrictions on P-1 visa?
No. As long as your visa and status as an athlete are valid, you can enter and leave the U.S. as often as you like.
Can I bring my spouse and children?
Yes, but you must apply for a P-4 visa. They will be allowed to study while in the U.S. , but can't work.