The P-1 visa classification is appropriate for athletes going to the United States to perform at an internationally recognized level, either individually or as a part of a team. International recognition is evidenced by a substantially higher level of skill and/or recognition than normally encountered in the field, such that the applicant’s achievements are well-known in more than one country. If the applicant is applying as an individual, he or she must demonstrate they have attained the appropriate level of international recognition based on their own individual achievements and reputation. If the applicant is being sponsored by a team, then it must be shown that the team has the requisite level of international recognition. It is also important to note that the services to be performed while in the US must be those that are ordinarily required to be performed by an internationally recognized athlete.
P-1 Group Entertainers
The P-1 visa is also used for individuals who are an essential member of an internationally recognized foreign entertainment group and have been an integral component of the group for a sustained and substantial period (at least one year). Just as for athletes, international recognition is evidenced by a substantially higher level of recognition than normally encountered in the field, such that the group’s achievements are well-known in more than one country. Furthermore, at least 75% of the members must have been a part of the group for at least one year. The P-1 classification is not appropriate for individual performers, or members of a group that will be performing individually without the remaining group members.
P-2 Exchange Program Artists and Entertainers
Artists and entertainers, either individually or as a part of a group, may be eligible for a P-2 visa if they are going to the United States to perform under a reciprocal exchange program. The exchange program must be between a US entity and at least one other foreign entity. Participating artists need not rise to the level of a P-1 performer, however, the individuals participating in the exchange must be of equivalent caliber to one another. Additionally, the terms of the exchange ought to be similar when it comes to conditions and length of employment.
P-3 Culturally Unique Performers
The P-3 visa classification is used for artists and entertainers, either individually or as a part of a group, who are going to the United States to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach a culturally unique artistic performance or presentation in order to further the understanding or development of that particular art form. To be considered culturally unique, the artistic expression must be unique to a particular group of people, for example, a specific country, society, ethnicity, tribe, or religion. Although there are no requirements for international (or even national) recognition, the authenticity of the performer’s skills must be verified by recognized experts in the field.
P-4 Visas for Spouses and Children
A spouse or child (under 21) of a P non-immigrant who is accompanying or following-to-join the principal applicant may apply for a P-4 visa, however, work authorization is not granted to those in P-4 status.
P visas will be issued for the length of time needed for the applicant to complete the competition, performance, or event, but cannot exceed one year. The only exception is for individual athletes, who may be given a period of up to five years.
Procedure for Obtaining a P Visa
A US employer or sponsor must first file a petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of the beneficiary (intending non-immigrant). The petition must contain evidence of the beneficiary’s eligibility for the visa, including evidence of their international recognition where appropriate. If there are multiple US employers, each one must submit a separate petition, or alternatively, an agent may submit one petition for the entire itinerary and include contracts between the beneficiary and each employer. Once the petition has been approved, the applicant, and any applicable dependant applicants, may then apply for their visas at a US Consulate abroad.