P-1A Visa
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P-1A Visa Attorneys in Annandale

Athletes Visiting to Compete

P-1 visas are the necessary documentation for those coming to the United States for competitions and performances. The P-1A visa applies to athletes who are visiting the United States to participate in a competition or tournament. These are different from P-1B visas, which only apply to entertainment groups who are visiting to perform in the United States. Both visas require applicants to be internationally recognized. Here are the P-1A Visa requirements for athletes, teams, and coaches to visit the United States to compete.

What Does International Recognition Mean?

The broad definition of the requirement to be internationally recognized is that the athlete, team, or group must have a high level of achievement and skill in their field which surpasses what the ordinary person could do. This must be proven by presenting evidence to prove recognition, which depends on the purpose of the visit and the number of applicants and is listed below.

How to Apply For a P-1A Visa

Athletes, athletic teams, and coaches can apply for the P-1A visa if they are visiting the United States for a specific competition, season, or production. The competition must have a distinguished reputation and require international participation.

If an individual is applying for a P-1A Visa in order to be employed as a professional athlete, the employer or employing team has to be in a league, club, conference, or association with at least 6 competing entities whose combined annual revenue is at least $10 million. The sport must have a governing entity that oversees competitors’ behaviors and applies rules or regulations on the sport.

Evidence of International Recognition for Individuals or Teams

Individuals or teams applying for a P-1A visa for a specific competition or event must submit a contract with their employing team or the governing entity of the sport. Additionally, they must submit at least 2 pieces of evidence from this list of acceptable proof:

  • Proof of significant participation prior to entering the U.S. to compete
  • Proof of participation in an international competition with a team
  • Proof of previous participation in an intercollegiate competition in the U.S.
  • Providing written statement from governing entity detailing recognition
  • Providing written statement from a sports journalist detailing recognition
  • Proof of ranking in relevant league, club, conference, or association
  • Proof of earning relevant significant honor, award, medal, or trophy


Evidence of International Recognition for Professional Athletes

Individuals applying for a P-1A visa for employment on a team for a season or specified amount of time must submit evidence of all the following:

  • Proof that the league, club, conference, or association in which the petitioner is competing has six or more teams
  • Proof that the combined annual revenues of these teams is at least $10 million
  • Proof the governing entity oversees competitors’ behaviors and applies rules or regulations on the sport


Form I-129 Submission

All P-1A visa applicants must also complete and submit Form I-129, the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Along with this form, the applicant or his or her employer, agent, or sponsor must also submit all the following:

  • Written consultation from an appropriate labor organization, if one exists, which describes the activity for which the petitioner is visiting the United States and qualifications
  • Copies of contracts of employment or, if these do not exist, descriptions of employment entered into by oral agreement
  • Written description of the activity for which the petitioner is visiting the United States, including dates or a specific time frame
  • Copies of the itineraries or schedules for the activity or any events related to the activity in which the petitioner is participating

Can I Bring My Family on a P-1A Visa?

P-1A visas are specific to the applicants who are visiting the United States to compete. However, applicants’ families are eligible for P-4 nonimmigrant status. While this will not allow family members to gain employment, it will allow them to attend school or college. To apply for this status, family members must file Form I-539. If more than one family member is applying, it is recommended to apply as co-applicants with the applicant’s P-1A in paper form to save money, as applying online requires a fee per application.

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The process for obtaining a P-1A visa is complicated and can be lengthy, especially for first timers. Johnson & Masumi has extensive legal experience in visa applications and can handle any complications that occur. Call (703) 783-0082 or contact Johnson & Masumi today to use their experience in navigating the legal process and save your energy for competing.

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