What You Need to Know About the P1 Visa

Updated on April 24, 2024

P1 visa is a good option for Athletes looking to come to the US legally for the purpose of playing. It is a non-immigrant short term visa. Below we’ll also discuss different types of P1 visas for various athletes.

What Is a P1 Visa?

Simply put, P1 Visas are US Visas that foreign athletes can apply for in order to participate in athletic competition. They can either do this by themselves or with a team. Furthermore, the level of performance has to be internationally recognized too.

However, P1 Visas can also be obtained by the support staff or the coaches of the athletes as well.

Types of P1 Visas

There are two types of P1 Visas you can get depending on the situation and your reason for going to the US. These are P-1A Visas and P-1B Visas.

The former is meant for people who want to go to the US to participate in an athletic event. This means they are either professional athletes, individual ones that are recognized internationally for their performance, or athletes that are part of a team or group which is, again, internationally recognized. If you’re a coach, you can obtain this type of P1 Visa as well.

On the other hand, P-1B Visas are applicable visas for those wanting to go to the US as part of an entertainment group. This group has to be internationally recognized. Furthermore, it must also have been doing this for a longer period of time. Most of the members are required to be part of the group for at least for one year before applying for this visa.

Who Is Eligible for a P1 Visa?

For a P1 Visa, the ones eligible for it are professional athletes, specifically those who have made an international recognition. You can apply individually or as part of a team. Coaches, as well as support staff of the athletic holder of this visa can also obtain one.

Members of entertainment groups who have had a relationship with the other team members for at least a year are also eligible.

How to Apply for a P1 Visa?

Now that we’ve established what a P1 Visa is and who can obtain one, let’s see how you can apply for one. First of all, you need to keep in mind that special documentation has to be submitted to get you accepted.

All P1 Visa applicants need a general set of documents that will determine whether they’re eligible for the Visa or not. You are going to need a contract with a team or sports league from the United States. You can also use a contract tendered in an individual sport. In addition, you will need at least two of the following documents:

  • Proof that you are going to participate in a major US sports event
  • Proof of the high ranking of the team or athlete, especially if the sport has an international ranking system
  • Evidence that you are going to participate at international levels in a national team
  • Proof that you or the team you’re part of have received some sort of award or significant honor in said sport.
  • Evidence that you’ve participated in a former competition for a US university or college.
  • A written statement from an expert or a sports media member that can show the fact that you and your team are recognized at an international level.

If you’re a member of an entertainment group, you will need different documentation to prove your eligibility for this Visa. You will be asked for a statement where all members of the group or team are listed, together with the dates when each one has been employed. There must also be proof of the group being established and operating for at least one year. Not to mention that you will also need evidence of any nomination, or prizes won by the group in this field.

Added to these, you will also need at least 3 of the following documents:

  • Evidence that the group or team will continue with their activity from trade journals, testimonials, newspapers, publications or others.
  • Proof that the group asks for a high payment for their services in comparison to other teams in the same industry.
  • Proof of international recognition of the group from newspapers, magazines and so on.
  • Evidence of the success of the team during former events, from things such as receipts, video sales, or anything of the sort.
  • Proof of anyone in the group with special achievements or recognition from government agencies, organizations, experts or critics in the field.

How Much Does a P1 Visa Cost?

Before the athlete is permitted to apply for the P1 Visa, a US sponsor or employer has to submit a Form I-129 to USCIS. This has a fee of $460 per each petition. The application fee for the P Visa itself is about $190. This fee is required if you want to continue with the rest of the application.

However, some additional fees may apply depending on the relationship your country has with the US.

P1 Visa Processing Time?

Once the visa application is done, the applicant will have to wait between 3 to 6 months for it. In some situations, though, premium processing is available and you can get it much sooner, but you will have to pay for it. You’ll get a response after 15 days. The fee exceeds $1,225, though.

Alternatives to a P1 Visa

In the event that you’re not eligible for a P1 Visa because you’re not a professional athlete, you can get an H-2B Visa. If you don’t have enough achievements for a P1 one, then the H-2B one will come as a solution. Concurrently, a B-2 Visa will allow amateur athletes to go to the US for amateur events, as P1 Visas are not available for them.

Can a P1 Visa Holder Transition to a Green Card?

Whether you can go from a P1 Visa to a Green Card depends on the situation. Normally, it would be very difficult because the P1 Visa is for temporary residence. When you apply for the P Visa, you pretty much agree to return when the term is over.

But you can apply for a Green Card for permanent residence if you marry in the United States and have a family there. It’s also possible if you change your status to an H-1B Visa.

Being an athlete with amazing performance and outstanding skills will also bring you closer to a Green Card. You’ll have the opportunity to apply for an EB-1 or EB-2 Green Card.


Overall, a P1 Visa can be useful for people who need to travel to the US as athletes, supporting staff of the athletes, or entertainment team members. We hope this article has been informative enough to cover the basics. If you still have specific curiosities, though, Stilt can help you with information regarding Green Cards, Adjustment of Status Checklist and more.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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