Last updated on May 14th, 2019
P-1 athletic visas allow internationally recognized athletes to come to the United States for competition.
To get this visa, your employer will have to file Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker, on your behalf. In addition to the Petition, your application must include evidence of your status as an internationally recognized athlete.
Your application will need to include at least two of the following:
- Evidence that you have competed as a member of a major sports league in the United States
- Evidence that you competed as a member of a national team in an international competition (such as the Olympics or other major event)
- Evidence that you competed as a member of an American college or university sports team in intercollegiate competition
- A written statement from a major sports league or official governing body in the United States that explains in detail that your team is internationally recognized
- A written statement from a professional journalist explaining how your team is internationally recognized
- Evidence that a team you competed on is internationally ranked in your sport
- Evidence that you or a team you competed on has received a significant or honor in your sport
In addition to at least two pieces of evidence that you are an internationally recognized athlete, your application will need to include documents describing what you will be doing in the United States when you obtain your visa.
These documents should be provided by the employer filing the application on your behalf. If your employer has not provided them, you or your attorney should contact the employer requesting the following documents:
- A written consultation from a recognized labor organization
- A copy of your contract with the major American sports team or league OR a contract with your individual sport’s organization that’s recognized internationally if the organization normally uses these contracts
- A description of the event you will be competing in and an itinerary showing when and where you plan to compete
Examples of Evidence for a P-1 Athletic Visa
The purpose of these documents will be to prove that you are in fact an internationally recognized athlete and that you will be coming to the United States for competition in a major sports league or competition. You will need to prove both of these qualities to receive a P-1 athletic visa.
If you have already competed as a member of a major American sports team, you can use a copy of your old contract or some other credible proof that you were a member of the team. This could include an official roster or other official record of your membership on the team.
If you have competed in an international competition with your national team, a contract with the team or official roster from the previous competition will work. Other official records of the competition including your name and evidence that you took part in the competition should work as well.
If you competed as a member of a college or university team in the United States you can submit official records showing your membership or documentation of any athletic scholarship you received.
If you competed as an individual or with a team that is not located in the United States, you may want to contact the league or governing body for your sport to request a document in their records showing that you or your team were a competitor with international recognition.
If a member of the sports media reported on you or your team’s performance, one of the easiest pieces of evidence to obtain may be a newspaper, magazine, or online article detailing you or your team’s achievements at the time you competed.
This evidence must include your name unless you can show with other evidence that you were a member of the team at the time the story was written.
If you choose to use this as evidence it must be very clear that you competed as a member of the team at the time the article was written and the article must come from a reputable source for sports journalism.
If your sport has international rankings, you should look at the website for the organization that provides the rankings. If the rankings are not available online you can look to other publications that include the rankings or contact the organization for official documentation showing a current ranking that includes you or your team.
If you choose to submit evidence of an honor or award you or your team has received, you can make a copy of the certificate or other proof you received the award.
You may also be able to provide photographic evidence that you received this award but the photo must make it very clear that you were a recipient of the honor or award.
Hopefully, if you are coming to compete as a member of an American team any required contract and labor organization documentation will be readily available. But if you are coming as an individual athlete you may need to do a little bit more legwork to obtain what you need to apply for a P-1 athletic visa.
The written consultation from a labor organization, your contract with the team or league, and the explanation and itinerary of events you plan to compete in will likely require you or your attorney to contact the offices that hold on to these records.
These documents should be submitted along with Form I-129 in an application for a P-1 athletic visa.