Service Attorneys: James Hollis, Elissa Taub
P-1 visas are available for Athlete, Entertainers, and Support Personnel. P-1A visas apply to foreign nationals coming to the US to compete as an individual or as a team in an internationally recognized performance, as a professional athlete, or as part of a team or franchise located in the US and a member of a foreign league. A P-1 athlete must be coming to the US to participate in an athletic competition that has a distinguished reputation and that requires participation of an athlete or athletic team that has an international reputation.
The P-1B visa category is for entertainers who are part of an entertainment group coming to the US to perform as an integral part of that group’s performance. Dance troupes, acting companies, orchestras and vocal groups are examples of the type of groups that use the P-1 visa for their members. The group with which a P-1B entertainer will perform in the US must be internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a “sustained and substantial period of time,” although the government may waive this requirement in special circumstances.
It is important to note that an athletic team or entertainment group that employs a P-1 alien must be “internationally recognized,” which the USCIS defines as “having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country.”
A P-1S visa may be available to aliens coming to the US to work as essential support personnel for P-1 athletes, teams, or entertainment groups. In the context of a P-1 athlete or entertainer, an essential support alien is defined as a highly skilled, essential person who is an integral part of the performance of a P-1 athlete or entertainer, because he or she performs support services that cannot be readily performed by a US worker and that are essential to the successful performance of the P -1 athlete or entertainer.