A P visa allows foreigners to work in the United States for a limited amount of time for their P visa sponsor. This visa program is convenient in that it can be issued relatively quickly and it can remain valid for up to one year. It is even possible to extend a P visa for up to five years under certain circumstances. Not all applicants, however, qualify and many have their requests denied.
Not all athletes are automatically granted a P visa. All athletes and athletic teams must have been internationally recognized for a continuous and long period of time. Athletes must have a contract with a major sports league and proof of their participation. They must also secure a written statement from an official of a sports league as well as from a recognized expert.
P-1 visas are not available for individual entertainers. Only those who are members of groups will be considered. Performers in a company must have been an integral part of the group for at least one year. Up to 25 percent of the group, however, can be excused from this one-year requirement. During the application process, the group must provide proof that they have international significance. This can be done through box office receipts, ratings, proof of success, significant achievements from critics, and proof of substantial remuneration from fans.
There are some exceptions made for nationally known entertainment groups with outstanding reputations that are not yet known internationally. There are also waivers available for one-year group members who are replacing absent members when the replacement is an integral part of the group. There are many rules, regulations, and exceptions. Any individual athlete or group who wishes to perform and compete in the United States would be well advised to discuss with a Los Angeles immigration attorney about whether they qualify for a P visa.