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Professional Athletes, Gamers, and Entertainers who are Internationally Recognized are Eligible for

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The P-1 visa is a viable alternative for athletes and entertainers who may not meet the “extraordinary ability or achievement” requirement of the O-1 visas.  If you are an internationally recognized athlete coming to the U.S. to perform individually or as part of a team, you may be eligible for the P-1A visa. Professional athletes from a wide range of sports including soccer, taekwondo, and online gamers receive P-1A visas.

If you are an entertainer who is part of an internationally recognized entertainment group coming to the U.S. to perform with the group or are joining an internationally recognized entertainment group in the U.S., you may be eligible for the P-1B visa. Examples of a P-1B visa recipient are foreign artists who perform at a SXSW festival, a group of stage actors, and circus performers.

P-1A:  Internationally Recognized Athlete 


Length of Stay:  For an individual athlete, the initial period is the time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 5 years, and a maximum stay of 10 years. For an athletic team, the initial period is the time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 1 year.  Extensions may be granted in 1-year increments to continue or complete the event, competition or performance.

Availability:  Unlimited (no cap).

Deadlines:  None.

Evidence the Athlete or Team is Internationally Recognized:

In addition to submitting a consultation, a written advisory opinion from a labor organization with expertise in the field (waivable if organization does not exist), the athlete or team must show at least 2 of the following:

  1. Significant participation in a prior season with a major U.S. sports league;

  2. Significant participation in international competition with a national team;

  3. Significant participation in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition;

  4. Written statement from a major U.S. sports league or governing body of the sport describing how the individual or team is internationally recognized;

  5. Written statement from a member of the sports media or recognized sports expert describing how the individual or team is internally recognized;

  6. Individual or team is ranked, if the sport has international rankings; or

  7. Individual or team has received an award in the sport.

Who Files the Petition:  Must be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. sponsoring organization, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.

P-1B Visa: Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups

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An entertainer may be eligible for the P-1B visa in two situations: (1) the individual is a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group coming to the U.S. to perform and will perform with the group, or (2) the individual is coming to the U.S. to join an internationally-recognized entertainment group as a member of the group.  Individuals performing as a solo entertainer are not eligible for the P-1B visa.  With the P-1B visa, an entertainer may participate in promotional work that is related to a performance in the U.S.

Eligibility:  At least 75% of the members of your group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year. The entertainment group must be internationally recognized and demonstrate a sustained and substantial level of achievement.  The reputation of the group trumps individual member’s achievements or the success of particular productions. Certain entertainment groups, including circus performers and essential circus personnel, are exempt from the international recognition requirement.

Length of Stay:  Initial period is the time required to complete performance, not to exceed 1 year.  Extensions may be granted in increments of 1 year.

Availability:  Unlimited (no cap).

Deadlines:  None.

Evidence the Group is Internationally Recognized:  

In addition to submitting a consultation, a written advisory opinion from a labor organization with expertise in the field (waivable if organization does not exist), the group must have received or been nominated for significant international awards for outstanding achievement in the field, OR must establish evidence of at least 3 of the following:

  1. Performance (past and future) as a starring or leading entertainment group in distinguished productions or events as evidenced by reviews, advertisements, publications, or endorsements;

  2. International recognition for outstanding achievement in the field;

  3. Performance (past and future) as a starring or leading entertainment group in distinguished productions or events as evidenced by newspaper articles, publications, or trade journals;

  4. Major commercial success based on ratings, box office receipts, and sales;

  5. Significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or experts in the field; or

  6. High salary or other substantial compensation compared to others in the field.

Who Files the Petition:  Must be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. sponsoring organization, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.

Do you qualify for the P-1A or P-1B Visa?

To find out if you qualify for the P-1A or P-1B visa, and how to complete an application, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

About The Grady Firm, P.C.


With offices in Beverly Hills and San Diego, California, the firm serves clients from around the world.

*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.


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