P-1A Or P-1B Visa: How To Choose

The P1 Visa is designed for both athletes and entertainers who are interested in coming to the United States to compete and perform in events or shows inside the United States. Athletes may come as an individual or as part of a group or team. Entertainers MUST come as part of a group. 75% of that group must have been together for 1 year or more. Since the P1 Visa seems to be all-encompassing, they are broken into two different categories, which are the P-1A and P-1B visa. Deciding between the P-1A or P-1B visa can be difficult if you are not familiar with the differences between them.

P-1A, Internationally Recognized Athlete

To be classified as an internationally recognized individual athlete:

  • You must be coming to the United States to participate in specific athletic competition at an internationally recognized level or performance. The athletic competition must have a distinguished reputation and require participation of an athlete that has an international reputation; and
  • You must be internationally recognized, which means you have a high level of achievement, evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country.

a p1-a athletic team huddled in a group

To be classified as a member of an internationally recognized athletic team:

  • Your team must be coming to the United States to participate in specific athletic competition at an internationally recognized level or performance. The athletic competition must have a distinguished reputation and require participation of an athletic team with an international reputation;
  • Your team, as a unit, must have achieved international recognition in the sport; and
  • You will not perform services separate from the team.

To be classified as a professional athlete:

  • You must be coming to the United States to be employed as an athlete by:
  • A team that is a member of an association of six or more professional sports teams whose total combined revenues exceed $10 million per year. The association must govern the conduct of its members and regulate the contests and exhibitions in which its member teams regularly engage; or
  • Any minor league team that is affiliated with such an association.

To be classified as an amateur athlete or coach:

  • You must be coming to the United States to perform as an athlete or coach as part of a team or franchise that is located in the United States and a member of a foreign league or association. The foreign league or association must meet the following requirements:
  • It must consist of 15 or more amateur sports teams; It must be the highest level of amateur performance of that sport in the relevant foreign country;
  • A significant number of the individuals who play in the league or association are drafted by a major sports league or a minor league affiliate; and
  • Participation must make players temporarily or permanently ineligible under National Collegiate Athletic Association rules to:
      • Earn a scholarship in the sport at a U.S. college or university; or
      • Participate in the sport at a U.S. college or university.

To be classified as a professional or amateur athlete performing in a theatrical ice skating production:

  • You must be a professional or amateur ice skater coming temporarily to the United States solely to perform, individually or as part of a group, in a specific theatrical ice skating production or tour.

P-1B, Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group

To be classified as a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group:

  • At least 75% of the members of the group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one-year (with certain exceptions);
  • Your entertainment group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered (please see exceptions and special provisions noted below); and
  • The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements or acclaim of its members, is essential.

Special Provisions for Certain Entertainment Groups

a circus performer who has a p1 b visaCircus performers and essential circus personnel are exempt from the one-year requirement and the internationally recognized requirement. They must be coming to join a nationally recognized circus. Certain nationally known entertainment groups may have the internationally recognized requirement waived if they can establish that their group has been recognized nationally as outstanding in its discipline for a sustained amount of time in consideration of special circumstances.

Essential support personnel

Essential support personnel are eligible for P-1S classification if they are an integral part of your performance and perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker. Support personnel for P-1A nonimmigrants may include coaches, scouts, trainers, broadcasters, referees, linesmen, umpires and interpreters. Support personnel for P-1B nonimmigrants may include front office personnel, camera operators, lighting technicians and stage personnel.

Reach Out to The Immigration Law Experts

As noted, anyone or any organization that is interested in entering into the United States for an athletic event needs the P-1A Visa. Those who are interested in obtaining a Visa because they are an entertainer or part of an entertainment group need the P-1B Visa. If you are interested in learning more about how to choose between the P-1A or P-1B Visa, then reach out to our immigration law professionals today. We can provide you with more information that is specific to your case and offer assistance through the entire application process, ensuring the process is as short and simple as possible.

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