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Nonimmigrant Visas

The categories of nonimmigrant visas read like alphabet soup and are notated by a letter-number combination as appearing on the I-94 Arrival-Departure Card.

A Diplomats and foreign government officials
B Visitors for business or pleasure (B-1/B-2 information)
C Transit visa
D Crewmen
E Treaty Traders and Investors (E-1 & E-2 information)
F Students (academic) (F-1 information)
H Temporary Workers
I Representatives of foreign media
J Exchange Program students, scholars, trainees, teachers, research assistants, medical graduates, etc. (J-1 information)
K Fiancees of U.S. citizens
L Intracompany transferees (L-1 information)
M Students (vocational) (M-1 information)
N Parents or children of an alien accorded Special Immigrant status
O Individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, athletics, movies, or television
P Athletes and entertainers - highly qualified individuals / groups as well as accompanying group members
Q Participants in international cultural programs
R Religious workers
S Individuals coming to the U.S. to testify in a criminal proceeding
TN Canadians and Mexicans entering under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

P - Athletes and entertainers - highly qualified individuals / groups as well as accompanying group members

ATHLETES AND ENTERTAINERS

(P-1/P-2/P-3 Visas)

The ‘P’ Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to aliens who wish to travel to the United States for a temporary period of time to take part in a specific program individually or as part of a team ‘at an internationally recognized level of performance’.

‘Internationally recognized’ means that the alien athletes or performers seeking P-1 Visas must demonstrate that they have attained ‘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’.

P-1A VISAS - (Athletes)

This visa is issued to persons who wish to take part in a specific athletic competition in the U.S., as an athlete, either individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.
A team may constitute of two or more persons.

Documents Required

The petition (Form I-129) must be filed by a U.S. or foreign employer and be accompanied by:

  1. A written advisory opinion from an appropriate labor organization.
  2. A copy of a written contract with a major U.S. sports league or team, or a contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in the sport, if such contracts are normally utilized in the sport.
  3. Documents to show evidence of at least two of the following:
    • Significant participation in a prior season with a major United States sports league.
    • Participation in international competition with a national team.
    • Significant participation in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition.
    • A written statement from an official of the governing body of the sport, which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized.
    • A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport, which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized.
    • Ranking of the individual or team, if the sport has international rankings.
    • Proof that the applicant has a foreign residence that he/she does not intend to abandon.

P-1B VISAS - (Entertainers)

This visa is issued to persons who wish to enter the United States to perform as a member of a foreign based entertainment group that has been internationally recognized for a sustained and substantial period of time, and the performer has had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for a period of at least one year.

Documents Required

The petition (Form I-129) must be filed by a U.S. or foreign employer and be accompanied by:

  1. A written advisory opinion from an appropriate labor organization.
  2. A statement that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least one year.
  3. Evidence that 75% of the members of the group have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for a period of at least one year;
  4. Documents to show evidence that the group has either:
    • been nominated for or received significant international awards or prizes;
      or documents to show evidence of at least three of the following:
    • The group has performed as a leading group in production or events, which have a distinguished reputation as shown by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements.
    • Reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material, showing international recognition/acclaim.
    • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales.
    • Recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien's achievements.
    • Contracts or other reliable evidence to show that the group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field.
    • Proof that the applicant has a foreign residence that he/she does not intend to abandon.

Exemptions

a) Performers in a circus do not have to meet the one-year group membership requirement or have international recognition. It is the circus itself that has to be internationally recognized and have a national or international reputation.
b) International recognition may be waived, under special circumstances, for a group that has had sustained national recognition.
c) The one-year relationship may also be waived in exigent circumstances.

P-2 VISAS - (Reciprocal Exchange)

This visa is issued to aliens, who are taking part in a reciprocal exchange program which is between an organization(s) in the United States and an organization in another country, and which provides for the temporary exchange of artists, entertainers or groups. The person must perform as an artist or entertainer individually or as part of the group, or is an integral part of the performance. He/she must seek to enter the U.S. temporarily and solely for performing only.

Documents Required

The petition (Form I-129) must be filed by a U.S. employer or a U.S. organization that negotiated the agreement, and be accompanied by:

  1. A written advisory opinion from an appropriate labor organization.
  2. A formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the U.S. organization(s) sponsoring the alien and the organization(s) in a foreign country which will receive the U.S. artist or entertainer;
  3. Evidence that the alien and the U.S. artist or entertainer subject to the reciprocal exchange agreement are artists with comparable skills and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar.
  4. Evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the U.S. was involved in negotiating, or has concurred with, the reciprocal exchange of U.S. and foreign artists or entertainers.
  5. Proof that the applicant has a foreign residence that he/she does not intend to abandon.

P-3 VISAS – (Culturally Unique Artists)

This visa is issued to persons who wish to enter the United States temporarily and solely to perform, teach or coach, individually or as part of a group, in a commercial or non-commercial program that is culturally unique.

Documents Required

The petition (Form I-129) must be accompanied by the following documents, showing evidence that the artist or entertainer has:

  1. achieved excellence in developing, interpreting, representing, coaching or teaching a unique or traditional
    ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical or artistic performance;
  2. intent to enter the U.S. to promote and facilitate art form;
  3. been involved in a culturally unique program for a substantial period;
  4. achieved national or international recognition or acclaim;
  5. skills that are authentic and excellent as attested through letters, expert opinions and testimonials;
  6. intent to perform in culturally unique events;
  7. a foreign residence that he/she does not intend to abandon.

Essential Support Personnel

Persons who form an integral part of the performance of P-1/P-2/P-3 holders, ‘because he/she performs support services, which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the success of the performance’.

The person must show that he/she has:

a) appropriate qualifications to perform the services;
b) critical knowledge of the specific services;
c) experience in providing such support;
d) a foreign residence that he/she does not intend to abandon.

P-4 VISAS - (Family)

This visa is issued to spouses and minor dependent children of the P-1/P-2/P-3 visa holders, and is valid for the same duration as that of the principal visa holder.

Duration of ‘P’ Visas

There is no explicit statuary limitation on the period of stay for ‘P’ visa holders. Usually the initial period of stay is approved for the time necessary for the specific competition, event or performance up to a period of one year. Extensions may then be granted for a year at a time if required to complete the same event or activity for which they were admitted. A ‘competition, event or performance’ means an activity such as an athletic competition, athletic season, tournament, tour, exhibit, project, entertainment event or engagement. A group of related activities may also be considered an event.
However, in the case of individual P-1 athletes, a visa may be granted for an initial period of five years, which may be extended up to a total of ten years.

NOTE: Immigration law changes frequently. The resources and information provided on this web site are intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. Although we strive to keep this information current, we neither promise nor guarantee that the information is the latest available, or that it applies to your specific situation. You should not act or rely upon the information in these pages without seeking the advice of an attorney.

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