P-1 Athletes and Entertainers Visas
Just like foreign-born baseball players, basketball players, skateboarders or other types of athletes, foreign-born musicians and entertainers who want to compete or perform in the U.S. must first obtain the necessary immigration authorization. IBV Advisory Group Inc. has assisted skateboarders, snowboarders, surfers, footballers, musicians, and other foreign athletes and their American sponsors in obtaining visas necessary to live and work in the U.S.The first step for foreign-born athletes and entertainers is to find a U.S. employer to sponsor them for a work visa.
The “P-1 Visa,” a visa category designated for athletes and entertainers seeking temporary work permission in the U.S.A P-1 petition is submitted to the U.S. Center for Immigration Services (USCIS) by either a U.S. sponsor or agent. Documents to be submitted with the petition include a written contract between the athlete or entertainer and the employer/sponsor, or in the absence of a written contract, a summary of oral contracts; details of the competition event(s) the athlete’s itinerary; consultation from a labor organization (e.g. the World Cup Skateboarding); and at least two forms of documentation establishing the international caliber of the athlete or entertainer.
These two documents may include:
a) Proof of significant participation in the prior season in majors, U.S. college or university or intercollegiate competitions;
b) Proof of international competition with the national team;
c) Written statement from a U.S. official in the sport about the person’s or team’s international recognition;
d) Written statement from an expert or sports media member as to international recognition;
e) Team or individual ranking; or
f) Significant honor or award in the sport.
It is easier to obtain a P-1 visa if the athlete or entertainer has received significant media coverage in either the U.S. or abroad. Athletes and entertainers should build a strong personal portfolio by collecting documentation of media coverage, such as photos, articles, magazine interviews, films, videos, etc. for submission with their application.It is essential for foreign-born athletes to participate in national and international contests (or team sports, as applicable) and to contact the people who organize these events. Letters from organizers attesting to the athlete’s participation and status may be needed to complete a visa application. And, of course, it helps if the visa applicant has a winning track record. A high ranking in the athlete or entertainer’s field increases the applicant’s chances of success not only in securing a temporary work visa, but also in obtaining a green card should the applicant wish to remain permanently in the U.S.
Once the P-1 petition is submitted to USCIS it generally takes six to eight weeks for approval. However, for an additional thousand dollar fee, the applicant or sponsor may request expedited processing and that the petition be decided within 15 days.
Once the petition is approved, the applicant must go to the U.S. consulate in his or her home country to obtain a visa stamp. The applicant will be interviewed by a consular officer prior to having his or her visa approved. Once in the U.S. and competing, the professional athlete or entertainer should remember to file tax returns and keep copies all tax related documents to confirm their employment history.In certain exceptional cases, an O-1 Visa, a visa for persons with “extraordinary ability” in their fields, may the most appropriate option. Both categories require that the athlete or entertainer demonstrate internationally recognition in the appropriate field (whether that be surfing, skating, football, basketball, snowboarding, dance or music).
The fastest route to obtaining US permanent residency (a green card) for athletes and entertainers today is through the O-1 visa. While applicants in other visa categories may have to wait years to obtain a green card, successful O-1 visa petitioners can obtain a green card in a matter of months. However, applicants and their sponsors will need to be able to demonstrate through media reports, rankings, and other evidence that the O-1 applicant is at the upper echelon of their sport.