P Visa

The P visa is divided into three categories: for internationally recognized athletes, artists and entertainment groups and culturally unique entertainers. This visa is ideal for athletes competing in professional U.S. tournaments, performing artists and groups in music, dance or other performance areas. To obtain this visa, the person must apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country.

Who is Eligible for an P Visa:

There are three categories of people eligible for the P visa: athletes and performers(P-1), artists in exchange programs (P-2) and culturally unique artists (P-3).

P-1 status is given to athletes performing at an internationally recognized level of performance, either individually or as part of a group, and to entertainers performing as part of a group which has been recognized internationally as being outstanding for a sustained period of time.

P-2 status is designed for artists, individual and group entertainers who enter the United States via a reciprocal exchange program. Unlike the O-1 visa, the P-2 does not require that the artist or entertainer demonstrate prominence or experience in the field.
P-3 status allows entry for artists and entertainers involved in culturally unique events. This category includes unique art forms that may be less well known to the public because they do not ordinarily receive the widespread acclaim or recognition. Those who teach and coach are also included in this category.

Definition of International Recognition:

International recognition is defined as a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is renowned, leading or well-known in more than one country.

Evidence Required for Athletes to Obtain a P-1 Visa:

Athletes can demonstrate international recognition either individually or as an athletic team member. If entering to perform as a solo athlete or for a U.S. team, the person must have individual international recognition. If entering to perform as part of a foreign team, the team must be internationally recognized.

Additionally, the athletic event in the U.S. must have a distinguished reputation and require participation of an athlete or athletic team that has an international reputation.

Evidence for P-1 Athlete Petitions must include the following:

  • Contract with a major United States sports league or team or contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in that sport
  • Extensive proof of at least two of the following:
  • Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season with a major United States sports league;
  • Evidence of having participated in an international competition with a national team;
  • Evidence of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition;
  • Written statement from an official of the governing body of the sport which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized;
  • Written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized;
  • Evidence that the individual or team is ranked if the sport has international rankings; or
  • Evidence that the alien or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.

Evidence Required for Performers to Obtain a P-1 Visa:

Entertainers who perform as members of an entertainment group qualify for a P-1 visa. An entertainment group is defined as two or more persons who function as a unit. Additionally, a solo artist who normally performs with the same musicians or singers, may still be defined as an entertainment group.

The primary focus of the petition is the international recognition of the group. In essence, the group must demonstrate international recognition on an outstanding level for a sustained and substantial period of time. In order to qualify, 75% of the group members 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. There are limited exceptions to this rule, such as replacement of a band member due to illness.

Evidence for P-1 Performer Petitions must include the following:

  • Evidence that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least one year;
  • Statement from the petitioner listing each member of the group and the exact dates for which each member has been employed on a regular basis by the group; and
  • Evidence that the group has been internationally recognized in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. This may be demonstrated by establishing the group's nomination or receipt of significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in its field or by providing three of the following types of documentation:
  • Evidence that the group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements;
  • Evidence that the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material;
  • Evidence that the group has performed or will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications or testimonials;
  • Evidence that the group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by such indicators as ratings; standing in the field; box office receipts; record, cassette or video sales; and other achievements in the field as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
  • Evidence that the group has achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field; or
  • Evidence that the group has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field.

Evidence Required for Performers to Obtain a P-2 Visa:

Applicants must demonstrate that they:

  • Non-immigrant intent, i.e. a firm desire and intent to return to the home country after the authorized grant of stay
  • Strong Home Ties
  • Performs as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group , and
  • Seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of performing as such an artist or entertainer or with such a group under a reciprocal exchange program which is between an organization or organizations in the United States and an organization or organizations in one or more foreign states and which provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers.
  • Skills must be comparable to those of the U.S. entertainer participating in the reciprocal exchange program

Evidence for P-2 Performer Petitions must include the following:

  • Copy of the formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the U.S. and foreign organization which sponsor the foreign and U.S. artist or entertainers
  • Statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange of U.S. artists or entertainers
  • Evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the United States was involved in negotiating, or has concurred with, the reciprocal exchange of U.S. and foreign artists or entertainers
  • Evidence that the foreign and U.S. artists and entertainers have comparable skills, and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar.
  • Verification that the foreign and U.S. artists and entertainers are subject to the same terms, length and conditions of employment and similar number of artists or entertainers involved in the exchange.

Evidence Required for Artists and Entertainers to Obtain a P-3 Visa:

The P-3 artist or entertainer must demonstrate that they are coming to the U.S. primarily for a cultural event to further the understanding or development of that art form. Culturally unique is defined as a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium which is unique to a particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group of persons.
Applicants must demonstrate that they have:

  • Non-immigrant intent, i.e. a firm desire and intent to return to the home country after the authorized grant of stay
  • Strong Home Ties
  • Performs as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group
  • Wants to enter the United States to perform, teach, or coach in a program that is culturally unique

Evidence for P-3 Performer and Entertainer Petitions must include the following:

  • Affidavits, testimonials, or letters from recognized experts attesting to the authenticity of the alien's or the group's skills in performing, presenting, coaching, or teaching the unique or traditional art form
  • Documentation that the performance of the alien or group is culturally unique, as evidence by reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials
  • Evidence that all of the performances or presentations in the United States will be culturally unique events

Importance of Non-Immigrant Intent:

The U.S. Consulate will deny any visa application where they think an applicant is going to overstay their trip to the United States. Non-Immigrant intent means that the applicant has no intention of remaining in the U.S. past the time allowed by the U.S. government. An applicant proves non-immigrant intent through behavior, detailing the reason for the trip, providing convincing documentation of this purpose (wedding invitation, business meeting confirmation) and demonstrating strong home ties.

Definition and Importance of Strong Home Ties:

Strong Home Ties are people, things or circumstances that bind you to your home country. Strong Home Ties include owning a business; longstanding employment; minor children; a large family unit; business, religious and social memberships; ownership of houses, boats, cars.

The U.S. Consulate will not issue an H-3 visa to anyone who cannot demonstrate strong home ties. According to their logic, if a person has strong home ties, this means he or she will not want to remain in the U.S. longer than the time period given by DHS. However if a person cannot show strong home times, that person presents a much larger risk of an overstay violation once inside the United States.

Length of Time for P Status:

Generally the authorized period of stay is valid for the period of time necessary to complete the event, activity, or performance. Status is generally extended in one year increments.

P Visa Holders May Apply for a Green Card:

O-1 visa holders who are interested in obtaining a green card do not need to test the U.S. labor market first. This means they are allowed to skip the difficult and time consuming PERM labor certification process, which is the first step in the green card process. Generally there are three steps to obtaining a green card via employment. Executives and managers get to skip the time consuming first step (labor certification application). Instead, the applicant mobes on to step two (the I-140 immigrant petition) and step three(the green card application).

Having said this, DHS is very reluctant to issue green cards to O-1 holders who follow this expedited path. This is true even though the green card eligibility requirements are almost identical to those used to obtain the O visa. For this reason, some O visa holders decide to complete all three steps, as the green card eligibility requirements are much less stringent.

Procedures to Obtain P Status and a P Visa:

There is a two step process for applicants who are outside the United States. First the employer files an P petition with DHS inside the United States. Once the application is approved, the file is sent to the U.S. Consulate in the applicant's country of origin for further processing. The applicant then applies for the P visa at the U.S. consulate in their home country.

The U.S. Consulate will generally issue a multiple entry visa that is good for the length of the anticipated program but may issue a one time entry visa which expires after 30 days. This visa means the recipient may apply for entry to the United States within the time periods listed on the P visa. This visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. This visa does not determine the length of time a person may remain in the United States. All this visa does is allow the recipient to ask for entry to the United States at the port of entry (airport, seaport, land entry). At the port of entry, a DHS officer will then determine if the applicant is allowed to enter the U.S. and for how long. The officer will note the visa category and the final day of authorized stay on an I-94 card and then staple this card into the applicant's passport. The P visitor must leave the U.S. by the date listed on the I-94 card unless having applied for an extension or change of status to a new non-immigrant visa category.

Other Business Visas Which Might Apply:

In addition to P visas, DHS also grants business immigration visas to foreign workers who have bachelor's degrees, investors, intra-company transfer employees and applicants seeking on-the-job training. Some categories require a bachelor's degree, but several work visas exist for those lacking a four year college level degree. For more information about these business immigration visas, please read these articles: