General Requirements of P-1 Visa Category:
- Alien athletes who compete individually or as part of a team at an internationally recognized level.
- Aliens who perform with, or are an integral and essential part of the performance of, an entertainment group that has received international recognition as “outstanding” for a “sustained and substantial period of time.”
1. P-1 athletes and athletic teams
With regard to athletes and athletic teams, the USCIS rules provide that a petition for an athletic team must be accompanied by evidence that the team as a unit has achieved international recognition in the sport. An athlete who will compete individually, and not part of a team, must be accompanied by evidence that the athlete has achieved international recognition in the sport based on his or her reputation.
Special note regarding players in MLB and the NHL
Under current Service policy, players under contract with teams in Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League are merely required to submit their contracts with such teams to establish their P-1 credentials.
2. P-1 entertainment groups
With regard to entertainment groups, the rules provide that P-1 classification can be accorded to the entertainment group to perform as a unit based on the international reputation of the group; thus, individual entertainers cannot be accorded P-1 classification to perform separate and apart from the group. With some exceptions, two principal requirements apply to entertainment groups:
- The group must have been internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time.
- 75% of the members of the group must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for at least one year and must provide functions integral to the group’s performance.
One-year membership Requirement
- The one-year requirement can be waived because of illness or unanticipated and exigent circumstances affecting a group member or when an alien augments the group by performing a critical role.
- The one-year requirement is inapplicable to circus performers and essential circus support personnel.
Special note regarding solo entertainers, young artists and new groups
The government has underlined that P-1 petitions may not be approved for solo foreign entertainers. The only basis for approval of a P-1 petition for a single entertainer is when that entertainer will be coming to the United States to join a foreign-based entertainment group, e.g., an alien orchestra member coming to the United States to play with an orchestra already on tour here.
3. Positions requiring services of P-1 aliens
With regard to P-1 aliens or groups, the position in the United States must require the services of the P-1 alien or group under USCIS rules. Thus, for a P-1 alien seeking classification as an athlete in an individual capacity, the rules provide that the alien must be coming to the United States to perform services in a competition or event which requires an internationally recognized athlete.
4. P-1 essential support personnel
With regard to entertainment groups, the addition of aliens who are an integral and essential part of the entertainment group is an important revision made by the 1991 Amendments.