The P1 visa is a specialty visa applicable to aliens entering the U.S. to perform in a specific athletic event or competition as an athlete, whether individually or as part of a team. To be eligible for a P1 visa, the athlete must be recognized for his or her level of performance in a sport or be a member of an internationally-recognized foreign team. From the moment that an application is submitted for a P1 visa, a stringent process takes place that can span many months depending on a variety of factors. The average P1 visa processing time in 2020 is between 3 and 6 months.
Typical Processing Time For P1 Visas
The P1 visa process begins when Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, is submitted with supporting documentation and the appropriate fee. The petition must be filed no more than six months prior to the scheduled performance. This petition is sent to the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center for processing. It generally takes an average of 2 to 8 weeks to process a P1 visa petition. If approved, Form I-797, Notification of Approval, is sent by the USCIS to the petitioner and beneficiary. Only after the athlete has received this approval can they start the visa application at a local U.S. Embassy.
The next step involves completing Form DS-160, an online nonimmigrant visa application. Once submitted, a confirmation page and code are given which are required for the document file. As part of the process, the foreign athlete will also be required to have an interview with the U.S. Embassy. As there is a high workload, it can take time to get in for an interview. Once an interview is scheduled, a confirmation letter is sent. This letter must be brought to the interview on the scheduled date. It is important to arrive on time for this interview and with all documentation to prevent delays in the process.
While the P1 visa processing time for 2020 can take up to six months on average, foreign athletes who desire a quicker turnaround time can speed up the process. With premium processing, visa applications can be processed considerably faster than the norm. However, this service comes at a steep fee. An additional $1,225 must be paid to have a response on your visa within a 15-day period.
Factors That Can Influence The Processing Time
There are a variety of factors that can influence the processing time. One of the most common reasons that the P1 visa process is delayed is due to RFEs.
An RFE, which stands for Request for Evidence, may be sent as an inquiry by the USCIS at any point in the application process. This RFE can concern the petitioner, the beneficiary, or sometimes both. An RFE may be sent when an adjudicator believes that there is not sufficient evidence to approve the petition, but does believe that the petition could possibly be redeemable if the right documentation or information was to be submitted.
Various types of evidence may be requested before a petition can be approved. This may include further proof of the petitioner’s status as a recognized athlete, periods of current or prior stay in the U.S. documents supporting claims of exceptional ability, or similar types of supporting documents. The RFE will include the timeframe in which a response must be made. This time frame typically ranges from 30 to 90 days. If there is no response within that time frame, the application would be processed without the extra evidence, and in most cases, a denial would result.
How To Respond To Halts In The Process
When disruptions in the P1 visa process do occur, it is important to address the problem quickly and efficiently. In the case of an RFE, the petitioner will only have one chance to respond and submit all the requested evidence. If the petitioner chooses, he or she can partially respond by only submitting some requested evidence. In addition, the petitioner can choose not to respond at all, which means that the decision will be purely based on the original petition. If a denial is believed to occur and additional supporting documentation cannot be acquired at the time, then the petition can also choose to withdraw the petition.
Reach Out To An Experienced Immigration Attorney
When you are waiting for approval by your P1 visa petition, any amount of time can seem like a long wait. However, it is important not to rush through the application process as this is when mistakes are often made. Another way to ensure that the application process goes more smoothly and to minimize disruptions is by working with an experienced immigration attorney. To learn more about the P1 visa processing time in 2020, speak with an immigration attorney at Johnson & Masumi. Call us at 703-688-8279 or contact us online to get started today.