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What are the main features and benefits of a P visa?

A P visa is an interim employment visa issued by United States. Some of the features and benefits of the P visa features include:

  • P visas are issued quicker than any other visa.

  • The P visa holders can work legally in the United States. However, if a person on a P visa wishes to change jobs, then a new P visa will be necessary.

  • P visa holders can be granted excess time for vacation and promotional activities related to the specified event.

  • P visa holders can travel into or out of United States as long as the P visa is valid.

  • The P visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may receive a P-4 visa and be allowed to accompany the P visa holder to the U.S. However, they may not accept employment while in the U.S.

  • A P-1 visa holder can participate in any event held in United States.

  • A P-1 visa holder can apply for a Green Card, which enables the holder to remain in United States permanently.

  • Essential supporting personnel are allowed to accompany a person on a P visa.

  • P-3 visas can be used for self-employment purposes.

  • An essential support personnel looking after a P-1 visa holder is also eligible for P-1 visa if the personnel credentials help the P-1 visa holder.

  • P visas can be obtained at any time of the year.

There are no annual limits on the number of people who can be issued P visa.


The P visa is generally granted for the length of time required to complete the particular event, season, or tour applied for. The maximum length of time for this is one year. However, an athlete on a P-1 visa may be admitted for up to five years with a possible extension of up to another five years. An extension for a year to a team or group can also be granted.

What are the limitations of a P visa?

There are some limitations that accompany the P visa. They include:

  • A P visa holder must seek to enter the U.S. temporarily. The holder is required to have a residence abroad that they do no intend to abandon, whereas an O visa holder does not have this requirement.

  • Dependents of a P visa holder cannot be employed without an appropriate work visa.

  • Other than a P-1 visa, other visas like P-2 visa or P-3 visa must leave United States at the end of their program.

  • P-1 visa entertainers must perform as a group. They cannot perform individually.

  • A P-3 visa applicant must be 18 years of age.

  • A P-3 visa applicant must submit the initial visa application at a U.S. consulate on foreign soil and return to their home county to reapply for P-3 clearances.

  • P-3 visa petitions cannot be approved until U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) contacts labor organizations.

  • The petition for a P-1 visa holder must come from an employer or other recognized authority who must have been in existence and largely static for at least one year. During that time, the turnover rate at the organization cannot have exceeded 25 percent.

  • The P visa is limited to certain artists, entertainers, and athletes, whereas an O visa allows workers to engage in the fields of science, business, education, arts, athletics, or television and motion pictures.

  • Most P petitions will require a detailed written advisory opinion describing the P visa applicant’s abilities.

  • If a P visa holder wishes to change employers, he or she must apply for a new visa.


What are the types of P visas available?


The types of visa issued in the United States are segregated into different groups and sub-grouped into respective fields. Each type refers to a different class of people. A P visa can be classified or organized into

  • P-1 visa (Internationally Recognized Athletes/Entertainers)

  • P-2 visa (Artists or Entertainers)

  • P-3 visa (Culturally Unique Programs)

  • P-4 visa (Dependents of P visa holders)

P-1 Visa

A P-1 visa is issued to individuals in the United States who are internationally recognized athletes or to performing entertainment groups or to essential support personnel. A P-1 visa can be further segregated into the following subcategories:

  • P-1A - A P-1A visa includes tennis players, hockey players, and soccer team players.

  • P-1B - A P-1B visa includes rock bands, jazz bands, circus groups, performers, and trainers.


P-2 Visa

A P-2 visa is issued to individuals in the United States who are artists or entertainers operating as individuals or as group.


P-3 Visa


A P-3 visa is issued to individuals in the United States who are artists or entertainers recognized for excellence in coaching, development, and traditional artistic performance.


P-4 Visa

A P-4 visa is issued to individuals in the United States who are dependents (spouse or unmarried children under 21 years) of the holders of P-1 visa or P-2 visa or P-3 visa.

Who is eligible for P visa?


Applicants of a P-1 visa must be an internationally recognized performer or a group. The applicant should be ideally competing or performing in a specific event to enter the United States. Additionally, some health and character requirements must be met.

The applicant must have a U.S. employer or agent to sponsor the entire travel itinerary in the United States.


To be a P-1 visa compliant athlete, the person or team must be internationally recognized in the applicant’s sport. The applicant is required to furnish two items to the immigrant authorities or officials from the following:

  • Proof of participation in a major U.S. sports league.

  • Proof of participation in an international event with national team.

  • Proof of participation in a U.S. college competition.

  • A written document from an official of U.S. sports league explaining feats that justify as applicant’s recognition.

  • A written document from an official of media or expert of U.S. sports league explaining feats that justify as applicant’s recognition.

  • Evidence on international rank of the individual or team.

  • Proof that the applicant has received significant awards and accolades in the specified sport.


To be a P-1 visa compliant entertainer, the group must be of international repute. The group with three quarter of the members must be performing regularly for at least a year. The employer must produce before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at least three of the following:

  • Proof that the group will be a star attraction in an event.

  • Proof that the group will be a star attraction in an event of significant repute.

  • Proof of box office receipts or ratings that signify group’s commercial success.

  • Proof that the group commands high salary as remuneration.

  • A written document from an official of media feats that justify as group’s recognition.

  • Proof that the group has received significant awards and accolades in the specified sport.


Note: There must be significant international recognition to be an internationally-recognized athlete or entertainer. A recognized individual or a group or a member of a group must be recognized in multiple countries.

What is the procedure to obtain a P visa?

A P visa is issued from a U.S. consulate. The application procedure is as follows:

  • Obtain a written opinion carrying advice from appropriate labor organization of United States.

  • File a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS determines the applicant’s eligibility.

  • All non-immigrants must be included in the petition as long as they complete the procedure in a similar manner.

  • Apply for a P visa at the consulate.

  • Completion of all the above procedure enables a P visa holder to enter the United States.


Approval of the immigration status is subject to a proper petition. To ensure smooth handling of applications and issuance of a P visa, schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney.


P visa eligibility conditions are comparatively lower than most other employment-based visas. A P visa holder is required to have a residence abroad that they do no intend to abandon. Issuance of a P visa requires certain documents. The applicant must carry the following documents to the consulate office:

  • Passport

  • Photograph

  • Confirmation page of form DS-160, which is an online application form with the Department of State

  • Visa Fees

  • Interview appointment letter and one photocopy of it


The following documents are supporting documents required at the consulate:

  • Photocopies of the first and the last page of the passport

  • Primary applicants evidence of earlier performance outside own country

  • Form I-797

  • Form I-129

  • US Event Organizer letter


If the dependent of primary applicant is accompanying, then they are required to carry the following documents to the consulate office:

  • Form I-797

  • Form I-129

  • Photocopy of primary applicants visa

  • Marriage certificate if the dependent is the spouse of the primary applicant

  • Birth certificates if the dependents are children

How can I extend my P visa status?

If you would like to extend your stay in the United States on your P visa, you must request to do so with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you extend your stay in the United States without authority you can be barred from returning and forcefully removed or deported from the U.S. The applications must be made 45 days prior to expiration of your P visa. It is advised to ask your employer to file for the extension of visa.


P visa holders may stay in the U.S an additional ten days prior and ten days more than the valid visa period. You can ask for an extension to complete or continue the event specified earlier. The employer or the event organizer must also request on your behalf to extend the validity of the P visa.


You must file Form I-129 with a letter that explains the extension requirements. The employer or event organizer must file Form I-797.


An individual with P-1 visa can enjoy stay extension for at most five years. The cumulative period of stay for the P-1 visa holder cannot exceed more than ten years.


A group or team or others who hold P-1 visa, P-2 visa, or P-3 visa can extend over a year to complete the event or activity. In the case that it still remains incomplete, then they are required to reapply for another year and so on.

What are the expenses and processing time for obtaining a P visa?


For a non-immigrant visa, the applicant must pay a fee. Non-immigrant visa application processing fees are based on the category of visa applied for, except in some special cases where the application fee is exempted.

Different visas have different fees tied to them. The fee changes according to the applicant’s nationality. The filing fee of a P visa is $325 USD. The P visa application procedure requires a fee of $190 USD.


An additional issuance fee is also required. The issuance fees are subjected to change depending on the applicant’s nationality.

The processing time required for a P visa is usually two to four weeks. However, premium processing ensures that a P visa is available within fifteen days. Premium processing requires an extra $1225 USD filing fee. This basically provides faster processing for a fee. The USCIS guarantees that within 15 calendar days, clients of premium processing will receive either an approval notice, a denial notice, a notice of intent to deny, a Request for Evidence (RFE), or notice of an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation.


To request premium processing, Form I-907, (Request for Premium Processing Service) must be completed along with the standard Form I-129, (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker). They must accompany the P visa petition.

Are there any waiver or exemptions available for the P visa?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program in the United States that allows citizens of specific countries travelling to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days without visa. A person entering United States under the VWP is ineligible to request an extension from the original authorized allowed period of stay in U.S.


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can waive the international recognition requirement for outstanding national performers.


USCIS can waive the year group membership requirement for the applicant who is substituting a member of entertainment group or team.


Circus performers and essential accompanying circus personnel are exempt from the one year requirement and the internationally recognized requirement. Certain nationally known entertainment groups may have the internationally recognized requirement waived if it can be established that they have been recognized nationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained amount of time, with consideration of special circumstances.

Are there any reasons for which I could be ineligible for a P visa?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that some conditions must be met by visa applicants to be eligible for the P visa in order to allow them to travel to the United States.


The following are some the reasons for which an applicant’s visa can be deemed ineligible. They are:

  • Health related complications

    • Any non-immigrant who has a communicable disease and failed of documentation providing evidence of receiving vaccine.

    • Any non-immigrant who is a drug abuser.

    • Any non-immigrant who poses mental or physical disorders that can harm property or society.

  • Criminal and related grounds

    • Any non-immigrant who possess multiple criminal convictions.

    • Any non-immigrant who have been trafficking substance.

    • Any non-immigrant who have been involved in prostitution or human trafficking.

    • Any non-immigrant who has been involved in money laundering

  • Security concerns

    • Any non-Immigrants related to terrorist activities.

  • Labor qualifications

    • Any non-immigrant who do not possess necessary clearance from labor organizations.

  • Illegal entrants

    • Any non-immigrant who have illegally crossed into the territory of United States.

  • Incomplete documentation

    • Any non-immigrant who has been found without necessary papers and documentations required to enter United States.

  • Previously deported

    • Any non-immigrant who was earlier removed from any province of United States.


INA also contain provisions that allow ineligible applicants to apply for a waiver of their ineligibility.


Applicants whose visa application has been found as ineligible can reapply in the future. If the reasons for ineligibility have been resolved, then present evidence bearing changes since the last visa application should be provided. A new visa application must be made with the required application fee.

Can my assistants and other personnel accompany me to the U.S. on a P visa?


Essential support personnel who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and who are an integral part of your performance are also eligible for P visa status and may accompany you to the U.S.


Depending on the category of P visa applied for, examples of support personnel include:

  • For a P-1A visa: coaches, trainers, scout, and other team officials and referees

  • For a P-1B visa: office personnel, camera operators, lighting technicians, and stage personnel

  • For a P-2 visa: trainers, stagehands, and people having critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed

  • For a P-3 visa: coaches, trainers, scout, and other team officials and referees


The U.S. employer must file a separate Form I-129 for support personnel. The employer must include the following documents along with this petition:

  • A consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the area of the support person’s skill

  • A statement describing the support person’s prior and current essentiality, critical skills and experience with the P-1 athlete (team), artist, or

  • entertainer(s)

  • A copy of a written contract between the employer and the support person or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the support person

  • will be employed


Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer to learn more about your options and to begin the visa application process.

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