Foreign athletes can qualify for several visas, but to get a P-1 or O-1, you need to be above the average college player. If you are an athlete who will not be getting paid for your services or attending college, you will likely need to apply for a B-2 visa. However, if you are going to be in certain recognized events or paid for your services, you will need to apply for either a P-1 or O-1 visa.
What Is a P-1 Visa?
A P-1 visa is for beneficiaries who are in an internationally recognized entertainment group (i.e., two or more individuals), internationally recognized individual athlete, or part of an internationally recognized athletic team. If you are part of a group, 75 percent of the group members must have performed in the group for at least one year.
This visa also covers certain entertainers and artists coming to the United States as part of a foreign exchange program.
Eligibility For a P-1 Visa
An individual may be eligible for a P-1 visa if they meet one of the following:
- Internationally recognized professional athlete or athletic team seeking to enter the United States to compete or participate in the event of international standing. The team must prove similar international recognition if you are part of a team.
- Entertainment group that is recognized as outstanding and plans to perform in the United States.
- Coaching staff or support personnel of an athlete or entertainer who is integral to the beneficiary’s purpose in the United States.
Period Of Stay On a P-1 Visa
The initial term of a P-1 visa may be five years. Although, it can be extended another five years if deemed necessary under the beneficiaries’ purpose for being in the United States.
What Is an O-1 Visa?
An O-1 visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Typically, an O-1 visa is a temporary work permit that allows foreign nationals who are artists or entertainers in motion pictures, television, or other arts. Generally, O-1 visas are only granted to those who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement. Such individuals may bring their assistants or individuals who will help them in their purpose for coming to the United States. The non-performer individual will likely receive an O-2 visa.
Eligibility For an O-1 Visa
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, to qualify for an O-1 visa, an individual must demonstrate extraordinary ability by reaching nation or international acclaim or have a record of exceptional achievement in the motion picture and television industry.
How to Apply For an O-1 Visa
To apply for an O-1 visa, an employer must file on behalf of the foreigner with evidence that they have extraordinary ability or have demonstrated an extraordinary achievement. To prove this, the employer must submit at least three different types of documentation proving such, which may include a consultation. A consultation is a written opinion from a peer group or someone with expertise in the beneficiary’s line of work. The employer will likely also have to provide a contract between the employer and beneficiary and the beneficiaries’ itineraries.
Period of Stay On an O-1 Visa
The period of stay on an O-1 visa is up to three years. However, if an extension is needed, the agency will determine the extra time you need and extend your visa for up to one year.
Can An O-1 Visa Be Expedited?
Yes, there is a tight recording or production schedule; the employer can pay $1,000 to speed up the adjudication process to approximately 15 days.
Can Your Spouse and Dependents Join?
Yes, under both a P-1 and an O-1 visa, dependents of the beneficiary, if they are under 21, and the beneficiary’s spouse may come to the United States on their own visa that may be approved in conjunction with the beneficiaries’ visa.