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P-1 & P-3 Visas

P-1 Visas: Outstanding

Athletes, Athletic Teams, and Entertainment Companies P-1 visas are available to athletes or athletic teams that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time. Entertainment companies that have been nationally recognized as outstanding for a long time also qualify.

Unlike O visas, which always rest on the capabilities of individuals, P-1 visas can be issued based on the expertise of a group. However, don’t be surprised to find a lot of overlap between uses and qualifications for O and P visas. In the case of entertainment companies, each performer who wishes to qualify for a P-1 visa must have been an integral part of the group for at least one year, although up to 25% of them can be excused from the one-year requirement, if necessary.

This requirement may also be waived in exceptional situations, where due to illness or other unanticipated circumstances, a critical performer is unable to travel. The one-year requirement is for performers only. It does not apply to support personnel. It also does not apply to anyone at all who works for a circus, including performers. Like O-1 visas, P-1 visas are issued only for the time needed to complete a particular event, tour, or season. You may also be allowed some extra time for vacation, as well as promotional appearances and stopovers incidental and/or related to the event. Individual athletes, however, may remain in the U.S. for up to ten years.

P-3 Visas: Culturally Unique Groups

P-3 visas are available to artists or entertainers who come to the U.S., either individually or as part of a group, to develop, interpret, represent, teach, or coach in a program that is considered culturally unique. The program may be of either a commercial or non-commercial nature. You must be coming to the U.S. to participate in a cultural event or events that will further the understanding or development of your art form. In addition, your employer will have to submit on your behalf:

Statements from recognized experts showing the authenticity of your or your group’s skills in performing, presenting, coaching, or teaching the unique or traditional art form and showing the basis of your knowledge of your or your group’s skill, or evidence that your or your group’s art form is culturally unique, as shown by reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials, and that the performance will be culturally unique. Essential support personnel of P-3 aliens should also request classification under the P-3 category.

The documentation for P-3 support personnel should include:

1) A consultation from a labor organization with expertise in the area of the alien’s skill.

2) A statement describing why the support person has been essential in the past, critical skills, and experience with the principal alien, and a copy of the written contract or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement between the alien and the employer.

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