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Artists and Athletes

Artists and Athletes

Artist and athletes who are interested in performing in the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis have specific visa options. The primary non-immigrant (temporary) visas are the O-1 Visa for those with extraordinary ability, or the P-1 visa. The permanent immigrant visa available for highly regarded artists and athletes who have reached the top of their filed is the EB-1A, Petition for Alien of Extraordinary Ability.

We encourage you to review the O-1 and EB-1A sections of our website for more information about these options. Below we discuss the P-1 Visa, which is specific to artists, athletes and entertainers.

There are several types of P visas. The P-1 is used by athletes and group entertainers. The P-2 is used for reciprocal exchange programs for artists and entertainers. The P-3 is for performers in culturally unique programs. P-1 petitions must be filed by US-based employers, sponsors, or agents.

P-1 Athletes or Entertainers

Athletes, who perform individually or as part of a group or team that is internationally recognized, may qualify for P-1A classification. Members of outstanding, internationally recognized entertainment groups may qualify for P-1B classification. While athletes may qualify as individuals, entertainers may qualify for P-1 classification only as part of a group. Individual entertainers may qualify for the O-1 visa as “artists.” The term “international recognition” means a high level of achievement, as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that the achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country.

A P-1A petition must document the athlete or team has an international reputation, the competition has a distinguished reputation, and that the competition requires participation of internationally distinguished athletes or teams. In addition, P-1A classification requires either 2 of the following:

  • Significant participation in a prior season in the “major leagues” of the activity;
  • International competition with a national team;
  • Significant participation in a prior season for US college or university or intercollegiate competition;
  • Statements by US officials in the sport about the athlete’s or team’s international recognition;
  • Statements by experts or sports media members regarding international recognition;
  • Team or individual rankings;
  • Significant honors or award in the sport;


  • performance as a professional athlete employed by a sports team in association or league with 6 or more teams with combined revenues in excess of $10 Million, or a minor league affiliated with such an association or league. In some cases, high-level amateur athletes in established leagues or associations may also qualify as P-1A athletes.

P-1 individual athletes may be admitted into the United States for up to 5 years, and may extend for another 5 years. Additional P-1 time is available for athletes, but departure from the US is necessary before additional time will be granted. P-1 athletic teams are admitted for a maximum of one year.

A P-1B petition must document that the entertainment group has been internationally recognized for a sustained and substantial period of time, and that at least 75% of the group members have had a substantial relationship with the group for at least one year. The petition must include:

  • evidence that the group has been performing for at least one year;
  • a list of group members and dates employed;
  • evidence of international recognition, which may take the form of significant internationally recognized awards, or evidence in at least three of the following categories –
    • lead roles in distinguished performances;
    • reviews in major publications;
    • leading positions for distinguished organizations;
    • major commercial or critically acclaimed success;
    • testimonials from experts regarding the group’s recognition; or
    • high compensation relative to other similar groups.

A P-1B entertainment group may be admitted into the US for up to one year.

P-2 Reciprocal Exchange Programs

This classification is intended for artists and entertainers who are participants in an established program between organizations in the United States and one or more foreign organizations, for the purpose of temporary exchange of artists, entertainers or groups. These petitions require a copy of a reciprocal agreement, with evidence that the agreement covers the P-2 beneficiaries, and evidence that all the artists or entertainers involved in the reciprocal exchange program are comparable in skills and comparably employed as participants in the program. P-2 petitions require a written consultation from a US labor union. A P-2 participant may be admitted into the US for the time required to complete the event, up to one year. Extensions are possible under the same limitations.

P-3 Culturally Unique Programs

This classification is intended to facilitate increased understanding or development of art forms with particular cultural significance. Artists or entertainers may seek this classification, either as individuals or group members, and activities may include performance, teaching, or coaching. P-3 petitions require written statements from recognized experts explaining the skills in performing, presenting, coaching or teaching the unique or traditional art form. In addition the petition must establish that the performance is culturally unique and that each performance will involve the culturally unique activity. A P-3 artist or entertainer may be admitted into the US for the time required to complete the event, up to one year. Extensions are possible under the same limitations.

How Our Minneapolis Immigration Attorney Can Help

Based in Minneapolis, our immigration team works with artists and athletes in the Twin Cities, nationwide and around the globe to select the best immigration options based on our clients’ achievements and goals. We provide guidance regarding the best options to gain temporary and permanent residence in the U.S. We welcome you to contact Ostrom Law Office for assistance with your immigration matter.

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