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USCIS and P-1 Athletes, P-2 Entertainers
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USCIS and P-1 Athletes, P-2 Entertainers

A P-1 visa is for internationally known athletes, individually or as part of a group or team, and entertainment groups, but not individual entertainers. P-2 aliens are performing artists under the auspices of a reciprocal exchange program. P-3 aliens are culturally unique entertainers. All three classifications include accompanying personnel. The P-4 category is for dependents of aliens in the preceding classifications.

To qualify as a P-1 nonimmigrant, individual athletes, athletic teams and entertainment groups must meet the basic standard of international recognition.

Therefore, they must establish that they have a "high level of achievement in the field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country."

Athletes who perform at an internationally recognized level may be admitted in P-1 status. This classification may be granted to internationally recognized athletes based on their own reputation and achievements as individuals. In addition, the proposed services must require an internationally recognized athlete. Athletic teams must be recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline and must be coming to perform services that require such recognition. Team members also receive P-1 visas, but only to perform with the team. When filing P-1 petitions, the petition must be accompanied by a contract between the athlete or team and a major US sports league or with the individual sports organization. There are several other criteria that must accompany the petition to establish the qualifications of the athlete or team, which are outlined in the regulations.

P-1 visas may also be issued to members of entertainment groups provided the entertainment group has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. Each member must have been with the group for at least one year and be entering the US solely to perform with the group. In addition, the proposed services must require an internationally recognized entertainment group, and the status is granted on the basis of the group's reputation, not on the basis of individual achievement.

P-2 visas are issued to artists and entertainers who perform individually or as part of a group, pursuant to a reciprocal exchange program between one or more US organizations and one or more such organizations in other countries that provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers.

P-3 visas are available to artists and entertainers individually or as a group who are recognized by various organizations and/or experts as being culturally unique. Culturally unique is defined as a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium which is unique to a particular nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group of persons."

Each of the P categories permits entry to "essential support personnel." An essential support alien is defined as a "highly skilled, essential person" who is an integral part of the performance of the P alien because the alien performs support services which cannot readily be performed by a US worker and which are essential to the success of the performance.

A "P" petition is filed on US immigration form I-129, together with the P supplement, and is mailed to the US immigration service center office that has jurisdiction over the place of the alien's intended employment in the United States. As with an O visa, consultation with an appropriate labor organization regarding the nature of the work to be done and the alien's qualifications is mandatory before any P petition can be approved except if the petitioner demonstrates that no appropriate labor organization exists. Like the O petition, the consultation is not binding on US immigration, but will be given considerable weight.

P-1 petitions for individual athletes may be valid for up to five (5) years. P-1 petitions for athletic teams or entertainment groups may be valid for the time needed to complete the competition, event or performance, not to exceed one year. The same applies to P-2 and P-3 petitions. A P-1 athlete may obtain an extension for up to five (5) additional years. Other P aliens may apply for extensions up to one (1) year at a time in order to continue or complete the activity for which they were admitted. Again, as with the O visa, aliens entering the US in P status, whose employment terminates for reasons other than voluntary resignation, must be provided the reasonable cost of return transportation abroad by the employer and/or petitioner.

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