- P-1 visas are for athletes and entertainers who compete or perform at an internationally recognized level but do not meet the requirements of O classification visas.
- P-2 grading visas allow the mutual exchange of artists and performers between American and foreign organizations.
- P-3 visas are for artists and performers participating in unique cultural programs. Support personnel is also eligible for P visas in all three categories.
- P-4 visas are issued to spouses and children, but P-4 visas do not qualify them to work in the United States.
If an athlete travels to the United States as part of a team, then the team that applies for him must have international recognition in his sport. If an athlete travels to compete in the United States individually, he must demonstrate that he has international recognition in person. Singles athletes are allowed in the United States for up to five years, and athletes on a team are only allowed for the competition period, for a maximum of one year.
To be eligible for the P-1 visa, artists must be part of an internationally recognized group, and members of that group must have at least one year of co-performance experience, except for circus performers. Solo entertainers are not eligible for P-1 visas. P-1 visas are issued only for a specific travel plan, and their duration cannot exceed one year.
Submitting a petition for a P-1 visa
A P-1 visa petition is filed by a US employer or organization, foreign employer, or US agent and must include the following evidence:
- The contract between the person and the petitioner in writing, and in the absence of such, a detailed statement of the oral agreement;
- Description of the event and travel plan;
- Consulting from a trade union;
- At least two types of documents confirm the international caliber of an athlete, sports team, or group of artists.
If a petition is filed by a US employer or agent, it is submitted to the regional Citizenship and Immigration Services service center in the jurisdiction of the petitioner. If the petition is submitted by a foreign employer, it is submitted to the regional service center of the Citizenship and Immigration Service at the place of the person’s future work.
P-2 visas for the international exchange of artists
P-2 grading visas allow the reciprocal exchange of artists and performers between American and foreign organizations. Both individuals and groups are eligible for visas, and the exchange must be made between performers of a similar level, hired to work on similar conditions and for similar periods.
The P-2 visa does not require the same level of achievement as the P-1 visa. The petition is filed by the American professional organization that arranged the exchange agreement, the sponsoring organization, or the American employer.
P-3 visas for unique cultural programs
P-3 visas are for artists and performers participating in “unique cultural programs”. This category is available to individuals or groups who will perform, teach, or instruct in a program that has unique cultural significance.
The P-3 visa applicant must be at least 18 years of age and meet the conditions for the job specified in the petition, and must not have lived in the United States in the year preceding his arrival. The application must include Form I-129 with Attachment P, as well as documentary evidence of the cultural uniqueness of the program. The application is submitted to the service center of the Citizenship and Immigration Service, in whose jurisdiction the petitioner territorially belongs.
What are the potential challenges and problems to consider when applying for a P visa?
- The interpretation of the term “cultural uniqueness” depends largely on the Citizenship and Immigration Officer who is considering the petition.
- Logistic problems such as urgent work, route changes, and group changes.
- The limitations of the Citizenship and Immigration Service’s antiquated views on athletes, led to restrictions on new sports.