P Visas for Established Athletes or Entertainers
The P visa is generally for established athletes or entertainers, yet it has several nuances, which we explain on this page.
ATHLETES are eligible for a P-1 visa if they are competing and are on the level of an “internationally recognized” player. This standard is significantly lower than that offered by the O-1 visa, however it does exclude other team members such as coaches or support personnel that the O might have included.
ENTERTAINERS are eligible for a P-1 visa if they are members of a group that has achieved international recognition of note over a sustained period of several years. This standard is based upon the group’s reputation, not its achievements, and all individuals included in a petition must have been members of that group for at least one year.
EXCHANGE PROGRAM entertainers are eligible for a P-2 classification if they are members in a group participating in an exchange program with cooperating U.S. and foreign organizations. The American Federation of Musicians, for example, engages in such sponsorship regularly.
CULTURALLY UNIQUE PERFORMERS may be eligible for a P-3 visa classification. 8 CFR § 214.2 defines “culturally unique” to be “a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium which is unique to a particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group.” This definition is relatively broad and can open up opportunities for many individuals who have plans to travel to the U.S. to share their special cultural contribution with its residents.
SUPPORT PERSONNEL are allowed to travel with the principal visa holder where their presence is essential to the athlete or entertainer’s professional performance. They will be awarded a P-1S, P-2S, or P-3S classification.
P visa holders are permitted to travel to the U.S. for the time period during which their performance is to occur, and to be paid by the U.S. entity for their work. They can also work for endorsers who wish to pay them for advertising or other activities. P performers can work for numerous distinct employers in the U.S. but must file a unique I-129 application for each employer they plan to work for. U.S. employers, sponsors or agents can petition for a P visa applicant as can a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.
Attachment 1 to the I-129 petition provides for the listing of numerous individuals within one application. This is relevant to the P visa category as it is permissible to simultaneously apply for more than one applicant within one nonimmigrant work visa submission request.