How to file Form I-129, Petition for Athletes

Although the I-129, Petition for Athletes, is a straightforward form, the process of putting together the entire application can be complicated.

How to file Form I-129, Petition for Athletes

The I-129 is the first step for a professional athlete (or any of his or her essential support staff) to get a P-1 classification. The P-1 classification is necessary for the athlete to temporarily enter the United States to perform in his or her athletic event.

Follow these links for more information on the P-1 Visa and whether your athlete is eligible for P-1 status. 

This article will walk you through filling out and filing Form I-129 for your professional athlete.

General Information

Form I-129 can be found here.  At first glance, the Form seems rather complex. While it is 36 pages long, you will generally only need to fill out twelve pages: pages 1-9 and 26-28. You may need to fill out pages 35 and 36 if you are petitioning for more than one athlete. Note: you must file for athletes and supporting staff separately.

  • The form should be filled out by a United States employer, a United States sponsoring organization, or a United States agent for the benefit of the foreign athlete. Note: If you are not a U.S. employer (i.e. an employer who is subject to service of process in the United States), then you must petition through a U.S. agent.
  • The filing fee is $325 (USD) and it is to be paid by check or money order made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • The Form I-129 will generally be filed at either USCIS’s Vermont Service Center or California Service Center. However, P-1 petitions for major sports organizations will always be filed at the Vermont Service Center. For more information, visit USCIS’s I-129 filing page here.

Filling out Form I-129

Part 1 – Petitioner Information.

Part 1 is concerned with your (the qualifying agent’s, employer’s, or sponsor’s) information.

It merely asks basic questions about your personal and corporate identity.

Part 2 – Information about Your Petition.

Part 2 is concerned with why you are filing this petition. For a P-1 petition you will want to answer as follows:

  1. Write P-1 in the box provided.
  2. Check the appropriate box.
  3. Either write the related number or write none.
  4. Check the appropriate box:
    1. Check box a if your athlete has not entered the U.S. This will instruct USCIS to let the consulate you list in Part 4 of the petition to allow your athlete to enter the United States.
    2. Check box b if your basis of classification is “new employment” and your athlete is already in the United States.
    3. Check box c if your athlete is already in the U.S. with a P-1 Visa.
    4. Check box d if you are amending the athlete’s status who is already in the U.S. with a P-1 Visa.
    5. Box e does not apply to P-1 petitions.
    6. Box f does not apply to P-1 petitions.
  5. Write the number of employees you are petitioning for in this box. You can file for more than one employee on the same form; however, if you are applying for both athletes and support staff, then you must file one I-129 for the athletes and another I-129 for the support staff.

Part 3 – Beneficiary Information.

Part 3 ask for the information of the athlete(s) you are filing the petition on the behalf of. You will need the following information:

The athlete’s:

  • Name;
  • Aliases, if any;
  • Date of Birth;
  • U.S. Social Security Number, if applicable;
  • Gender;
  • Alien Registration Number (A-Number), if applicable;
  • Country and Provenance of Birth;
  • Country of Citizenship; and
  • Address of his or her U.S. residence, in applicable

If the athlete is already in the United States, then you will also need the athlete’s:

  • Date of last arrival in the U.S.
  • I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number
  • Passport or travel Document Number, Issuance Date, Expiration Date, and Country of Issuance;
  • Current nonimmigrant status and the date the status expires; and
  • SEVIS number and/or Employment Authorization Number, if applicable.
    Is the relative who is trying to enter the U.S. your spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child?

Part 4 – Processing Information

You only need to fill out Part 4 if either your athlete is outside the United States, or your athlete cannot extend his stay from within the United States (e.g. he has been in U.S. with P-1 status for 10 consecutive years. For more information, see this article).

This section is rather straightforward. The only information you may need to gather beforehand is your athlete’s foreign address.

Part 5- Part 9

  • Part 5 asks some routine questions about the employment you are offering the athlete. Again, this section is fairly straightforward.
  • Part 6 is not applicable for P-1 based I-129 petitions.
  • Part 7: Read and sign it.
  • Part 8 is only applicable if you are having your attorney or other representative fill out the form on your behalf.
  • Part 9 is only applicable if you need more space than what was provided in the previous sections.

Supplements

You can ignore all of the supplements except for the one found on pages 26-28 for O and P visa petitions.

Pay attention to questions 2 and 3. Fill out question 2a only if you are filing for one athlete or support member–if you are filing for more than one, then you leave 2a blank and put the number in 2b. Remember you can only file for the same class of P-1 status in a single I-129 petition; therefore, only check one box in question 3. If you need to file for any of the other two P-1 classifications, then prepare separate I-129s for each classification.

Continue answering the questions in the supplement. You can ignore any questions that aren’t related to P classification. However, pay attention to question 9. If you answer no, then you will have to fill out questions 13a-d on page 28.

Attachment-1

If you are filing for more than one beneficiary, then you will need to also fill out Attachment-1 on pages 35 & 36.

Putting together your petition.

Once you have filled out Form I-129, you will need to mail it along with your filing fee and all supporting evidence to USCIS.

For more information on the required supporting evidence check out our article: Can I Get a P-1 Visa for a Foreign Athlete?

Conclusion

Although the I-129 is a straightforward form, the process of putting together the entire application can be complicated. The process can run much more smoothly if you consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

If you finish putting your application together but are concerned with whether you did everything right, consider having it reviewed by an attorney before you send it to USCIS.

Tingen & Williams can help you at any stage in the process. Contact us today for a consultation.

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