P-1, P-2, P-3 — Athletes, Entertainment Workers, Cultural Artists

The P visa categories, P-1, P-2, and P-3, allow athletes, artists, and entertainers to temporarily work in the US.

  • The P-1 visa classification is reserved for athletes and entertainers who compete or perform at an internationally recognized level but do not qualify for the O visa classification.
  • The P-2 visa classification allows for the reciprocal exchange of artists and entertainers between US-based and foreign-based organizations.
  • The P-3 visa classification is reserved for artists and entertainers who will participate in a culturally unique program. Support personnel are eligible for P visas in all three categories.
  • P-4 visas are available for spouses and children, but the P-4 does not entitle spouses and children to work in the US.

P-1 Visas for Internationally Recognized Athletes and Entertainers

Athletes

If an athlete is coming to the US to compete on a team, the team that is petitioning for the athlete must have achieved international recognition in the sport. An athlete that will be competing in the US as an individual must demonstrate that he/she is internationally recognized. Individual athletes may be admitted for up to five years and athletes competing on a team may be admitted for the duration of the competition, up to one year.

Entertainers

To qualify for a P-1 visa, entertainers must be part of an internationally recognized group and the members of the group must have been performing together for at least one year, with the exception of circus personnel. Individual entertainers are not eligible for P-1visas. The P-1 visa is only issued for a specific itinerary and cannot exceed one year.

Petitioning for a P-1 visa

The petition for a P-1 visa may be filed by a US employer or organization, a foreign employer, or a US agent and must include the following evidence:

  • Written contract between the individual and the petitioner, or in the absence of a written contract, a thorough description of the oral agreement
  • Explanation of the event and itinerary
  • Consultation from a labor organization, and
  • At least two forms of documentation establishing the international caliber of the athlete, the athlete’s team, or the entertainment group.

If the petition is being filed by a US employer or agent, it should be submitted to the regional USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the petitioner. If a foreign employer is filing the petition, it should be submitted to the regional USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the location where the individual will begin employment.

P-2 Visas for International Exchange of Entertainers or Artists

The P-2 visa classification allows for the reciprocal exchange of artists and entertainers between US-based and foreign-based organizations. Both individuals and groups are eligible, so long as the exchange is between similar caliber performers employed under similar conditions and for similar periods of time. The P-2 visa does not require the same level of accomplishment as the P-1 visa. The petition must be filed by the US labor organization that negotiated the exchange agreement, the sponsoring organization, or a US employer.

P-3 Visas for Culturally Unique Programs

The P-3 visa classification is reserved for artists and entertainers who will participate in a “culturally unique” program. The category is open to individuals or groups who will perform, teach, or coach in a program that is culturally unique. The P-3 visa applicant must be at least 18 years of age, be qualified to perform the work as specified on the petition, and have not resided in the US during the last year prior to arrival. The application must include an I-129 form with a P supplement and evidence documenting the cultural uniqueness of the program. The application must be submitted to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the petitioner’s location.

What are some problems and issues to consider when submitting a P Petition?

  • USCIS’ interpretation of the term “culturally unique” depends on the reviewing officer
  • Logistical issues, such as rush jobs, changing itineraries, changing members of a group
  • USCIS’s limited, traditional view of athletes which can restrict athletes in new sports

How does White & Associates help?

We have been working for petitioners and beneficiaries of P visas for more than twenty years to solve the problems listed above. We have helped them overcome USCIS skepticism and consular attempts to revoke already approved petitions. Please contact us so that we may discuss how we can assist you.